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Grasping Land

Space and Place in Contemporary Israeli Discourse and Experience

Yoram Bilu, Eyal Ben-Ari

Publication Year: 1997

Examines the discourses and experiences associated with space and place in contemporary Israel. This volume explores various processes associated with constructing what has variously been called “The Holy Land,” “Eretz Israel,” “Zion,” Palestine,” or “Israel.” The contributors focus on ways the landscapes of Israel figure in creating and recreating the identity, presence, and history of groups living there. The book critiques the assumptions lying at the base of various spatial practices related to Zionism. It does this through both a theoretical examination and a focus on hitherto little explored phenomena such as pilgrimages of Israelis to their (or their relatives’) native lands abroad, the establishment of Jewish saints’ tombs in Israel, the design of Kibbutz museums, country hikes, and conceptions of territory in mixed (Jewish-Arab) communities.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Anthropology and Judaic Studies (discontinued)


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Half Title Page

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Dedication Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-24

The chapters in this volume represent attempts to examine processes associated with constructing what has variously been called "The Holy Land," "Eretz Israel," "Zion," "Palestine," or "Israel." More specifically, this book focuses on the ways in which the landscapes of Israel...

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1. To Morocco and Back: Tourism and Pilgrimage among Moroccan-Born Israelis

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pp. 25-46

Over the past several years, organized tour groups of Moroccan-born Israelis have been traveling back to their native land. These tours back to 'childhood districts' are part of the ethnic revival in Israel, and can also be seen as part of the emergence of a worldwide trend toward a "new ethnicity."1 ...

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2. Gravesites and Memorials of Libyan Jews: Alternative Versions of the Sacralization of Space in Judaism

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pp. 47-60

The patterns of sanctification of time and of space in Jewish culture are ancient. Their form, content, degree of salience, and interrelationship have varied under different historical circumstances (Davies]1982). An emphasis on time was probably highlighted by the long...

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3. Saints' Sanctuaries in Israeli Development Towns: On a Mechanism of Urban Transformation

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pp. 61-83

Since the early 1970s a number of Israeli development towns have been sties of a largely unnoticed but nevertheless constant urban transformation. This transformation (which has occurred in such places as Beit She'an, Safed, Hatzor-Haglilit, Kiriyat Gat, and Ofakim) has...

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4. The Presence of Absence: The Memorialism of National Death in Israel

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pp. 85-128

The political existence of modern states is predicated on their control over precisely (indeed, absolutely) bounded territories, their control of access to these territories, and their determination of who has the right to live here (Handelman 1994). Territory is said to belong and to be integral to the state. ...

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5. Tiyul (Hike) as an Act of Consecration of Space

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pp. 129-145

On Saturday, November 4, 1989, about four thousand members of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel as well as members of various youth movements, set out to protest against the intention of the air force to expropriate an area in the Arava (a valley that is part of the great Rift Valley...

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6. Remaking Place: Cultural Production in Israeli Pioneer Settlement Museums

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pp. 147-175

Recent work in the area of cultural studies has highlighted the nature of culture as an essentially constructed, potentially contested process involving a range of public communication forms and contexts (e.g., Appadurai 1981; Johnson et al. 1982; Hobsbawm and Ranger 1984; Dominguez 1986...

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7. In and Out of Territory

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pp. 177-201

A specific terrestrial base either at hand or as part of a chimerical future, is an obligatory component of every effort of what Anderson (1983) has labeled "imagining the nation." It is essential for the suggestion of a physical substrate-the 'homeland' in the literal sense-without...

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8. The Double Site of Israel

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pp. 203-216

The point of reference or beginning in the past is, again, neither fixed nor agreed upon. To determine which point is indeed the point of beginning is in itself a theory rather than pure recollection.2 In the present chapter two beginnings are suggested as reference points to the theory of the place. ...

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9. A Response from New York: Return of the Repressed?

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pp. 217-229

The quote from Robert Paine that opens the introduction to this volume suggests a fundamental irony. Paine says that "the people themselves . . . have been deterritorialized through the millennia." He means that they have continued to exist despite the loss of their national homeland. ...

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Epilogue (Three Years Later)

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pp. 231-235

This short epilogue was written almost three years after the other contributions to the volume had been collected. The space of time attesting to the odyssey of this compilation on its way to publication has made us more aware of the extent to which Israeli public discourses on land and...


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pp. 237-239


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pp. 241-246

E-ISBN-13: 9780791496268
E-ISBN-10: 0791496260
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791432174
Print-ISBN-10: 0791432173

Page Count: 246
Publication Year: 1997

Series Title: SUNY series in Anthropology and Judaic Studies (discontinued)
Series Editor Byline: Walter P. Zenner See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 42856501
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Grasping Land

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Jewish shrines -- Israel.
  • National characteristics, Israeli.
  • Sacred space -- Israel
  • Land use -- Israel.
  • Zionism.
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