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Forthcoming events

4th April 2019: JOINTLY WITH ASTENE - "Shrieks, Trills, and Squeaks": The Cacophonous History of the Ottoman Band of Jerusalem

Michael Talbot, University of Greenwich



4pm, 4th April 2019, BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum

Tickets are available through the British Museum 1 month - 2 weeks before the lecture. To book, contact the British Museum Box Office:  020 7323 8181 or     and go to the 'What's On' option at the top of the BM homepage. Then choose the 'Events Calendar'  and scroll down the page to see events listed by date and time.  If the event is not yet listed, please try again at a later date.


What can a photograph tell us about what the past sounded like? As it turns out, quite a lot. This talk will explore the visual record of the band of the Ottoman military garrison in Jerusalem at the turn of the 20th century. Whilst official narratives in the press in Palestine praised the band as providing the patriotic soundtrack to state celebrations, photographs of them in action, and the reactions of their audiences, tell a rather different story. Zooming in on the details hidden in these wonderful photographs, we can move beyond the formal portraits and gushing prose of the propaganda of the state, and think about what it might have been like to be in the crowd for formal state celebrations. Using a mix of photographs, newspapers, and musical recordings from over a century ago, the story of the Ottoman military band of Jerusalem allows us to see the history of that city and its populace in the late Ottoman period from a new angle.

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'State visit to Jerusalem of Wilhelm II of Germany 26th October to 4th November 1898. Turkish military brass band in procession to German camp', Photo by the American Colony. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

Dr Michael Talbot is Senior Lecturer in the History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Middle East at the University of Greenwich. Having received his PhD in Ottoman history from SOAS in 2013, his research examines Ottoman relations with the wider world, and Ottoman ideas of empire. His first book examined Ottoman-British relations in the 18th century, and he has published several articles on Ottoman trade, diplomacy, and imperial practices, including in Palestine.  



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