German antecedents of the department of geography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Historical perspective

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From its beginning (1925) up to early fifties, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem was an island of academic culture in Palestine. The structure of the university was of a German kind. Besides some "pure sciences" (mathematics, physics and philosophy) there were other departments and research institutes working under the "Zionist/Hebrew National goals" (a) Judaism: Biblical and Jewish studies, Hebrew language, ancient archeology and history of the Near East; (b) Land of Israel: sciences for the study of the nature of Palestine: climatology, geology, botany and zoology departments. Up to 1949, an academic geography was not existent. But there were attempts at introducing geography as an academic discipline. When Horst Kallner (David Amiran) and some other colleagues emigrated to Palestine they found a German academic culture and a Zionist-nationalist academic structure. Only in the departments of archeology and Biblical Studies seminars were given which bore the word "geography" in their titles. David Amiran and others can be identified as the "German" group and as the founders of a geography as an academic subject in Israel. Amiran was asked in 1949 to found the Geographical Institute at the Hebrew University. The only academic experience Amiran had, however, was that which he brought with him from Germany. The author of this paper therefore concludes that it was this experience which guided Amiran in setting up research and teaching agendas at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem between 1950 and 1965.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-123
Number of pages12
JournalGeographische Zeitschrift
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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