Planet Bethlehem is a platform for collecting and sharing resources related to Bethlehem and its remarkable history of global connectivity. For over 150 years, Bethlehemites have been travelling, trading and building communities all over the world. Today, around half a million people of Bethlehem origin reside in the Americas alone. Meanwhile, Bethlehem itself has developed a culture of openness and creativity, despite the problems it faces as a Palestinian city living under occupation. Planet Bethlehem was created in that same spirit of openness and creativity.
This site acts as the project's online archive, providing access to thousands of digital materials that have been catalogued and described by the Planet Bethlehem team. Many of the archive's materials have been donated by Bethlehem families in various parts of the world and we welcome further contributions. Please contact us if you're interested in sharing your Bethlehem stories or simply learning more about the project.
Leila Sansour (co-director)
Leila is a film maker and campaigner from Bethlehem who founded the Open Bethlehem campagin. Her films include Jeremy Hardy vs the Israeli Army (2003) and Open Bethlehem (2014). The original idea for the Planet Bethlehem Archive came from the large collection of photos and old news reels she collected during her documentary film making in Bethlehem.
Jacob Norris (co-director)
Jacob is a historian of Palestine and the Middle East. He works as a lecturer at the University of Sussex and is currently completing a book about Bethlehem's emigration explosion in the late 19th century. He has also published several articles on Bethlehem, including on the "Real Bethlehem", the town's role in the creation of the global Arab diaspora, and Bethlehem's historic encounters with Catholic Europe.
Freja Howat (project archivist)
Freja carried out much of the initial cataloguing and digitisation of the Planet Bethlehem Archive, as well as the design of its infrastructure. She has worked on numerous archiving projects including the Making African Connections Digital Archive. She is currently doing a PhD at the University of Sussex on the decolonisation of Palestinian archiving.