Promotional material for the book presentation of “Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo” by the German researcher and lecturer Joseph Ben Prestel – Photo courtesy of the event’s official page on Facebook.
CAIRO – 15 April 2018: NVIC (Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo) is set to host the book presentation of “Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo” by German researcher and lecturer Joseph Ben Prestel on May 10.
"Emotional Cities" offers an innovative account of the history of Cairo and Berlin in the second half of the 19th century. Accurately studying debates about emotions and urban change in the two cities, this project questions the difference between the history of European and Middle Eastern cities during this period. By combining urban history with the history of emotions, Prestel recommends a new point of view concerning the emergence of different cities at the end of the nineteenth century, according to the book’s description on “goodreads”.
As a result of several negotiations and diverse debates, authors and contemporaries declared that the transformation that Berlin and Cairo had witnessed impacted residents of both cities emotionally.
The discussions documented in this academic project highlight common practices, activities and neighborhoods in the two cities, such as the entertainment districts around Friedrichstraße and Azbakiyya. Such recognitions helped contemporaries suggest parallel renovation projects in the German and the Egyptian capitals. Several texts stressed the positive emotional influence of physical exercise and newly built suburbs on residents of both cities, such as the neighborhoods of Lichterfelde and Helwan.
Through highlighting varied common features and habits between the two places, Ben Prestel directly questions the separation of Middle Eastern and European urban history.
Joseph Ben Prestel is an assistant professor of history at Freie Universität Berlin (The Free University of Berlin). He is also the co-founder and editor of the Global Urban History Blog.