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The Politics of the Trail

Reflexive Mountain Biking along the Frontier of Jerusalem

Oded Löwenheim

Publication Year: 2014

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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Frontispiece, Title Page, Copyright Page

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Melody Herr, my editor at the University of Michigan Press, was the best editor one can hope for—thoughtful, full of insights and ideas, and highly perceptive. In Vancouver Island, Jerry Shulman was my first reader—he read this book while I still wrote the chapters, and implored me to finish it soon. I thank him...


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Prologue: Losing Traction in the Hills of Jerusalem

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pp. 1-17

It is an early morning hour at the beginning of May 2010. I am riding on my mountain bicycle on a single track, a narrow mountain-biking trail, that cuts through the Halilim (in Hebrew, “Flutes”) dry riverbed. The days are getting warmer. In a few weeks, the scorching heat of summer will fall upon the hills...

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Introduction. Mountain Biking in the Frontier of Jerusalem: An Exploration of External and Internal Landscapes of Conflict

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pp. 18-56

This book is the story of my daily mountain bicycle rides along the northwestern frontier of Jerusalem, Israel. I ride, back and forth, from my home in Mevasseret Zion, a suburb of the capital city,1 to the Mt. Scopus campus of the Hebrew University, in Jerusalem, where I am a faculty member in the Department of...

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Chapter 1. Mortal Danger: Two Rides along the Separation Fence

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pp. 57-78

These words are printed in Hebrew, Arabic and English (in this order) on a plastic orange-colored sign. The sign carries the logos of the IDF (a Star of David within which a branch of olive interlaces a short, gladiatorlike sword), and the IDF’s central command (a profile of a roaring lion) in its upper right and...

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Chapter 2. A Fence behind a Fence behind a Fence: Riding after the Unknown Soldiers and Looking for a Breach in the Fence

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pp. 79-112

I am standing with (retired) Colonel Munir Ibn Hassan (pseudonym) of the Jordanian Armed Forces in front of the memorial plaque at the foot of Mevasseret’s water tower, just a short distance from the gate in the separation fence. It is noon, but not a very typical late June day. Usually, by this time of the year, it...

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Chapter 3. Riding to Qalunya, Part I: Truing the Wheel of Time?

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pp. 113-138

Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center in Jerusalem specializes in treating persons who are stricken with “the Jerusalem Syndrome”—a psychiatric condition whereupon a visitor to the holy city believes he or she has divine powers, has been assigned a messianic duty, or is the embodiment of a character from the...

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Chapter 4. Riding to Qalunya, Part II: L’Hôte

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pp. 139-169

It is Israel’s Independence Day today. Independence Day always invokes in me a sense of stress. It comes a week after Holocaust Memorial Day and only a day after the War Dead Remembrance Day. It is the culmination of a week of nationalistic and militaristic commemoration, in which I always feel that there is...

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Chapter 5. The Last Ride (for the Meanwhile) in the Arazim Valley

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pp. 170-193

I am riding in the Arazim Valley on my way to Mt. Scopus for the last time this year—within two days I leave the country and fly to Vancouver Island for a year and a half of sabbatical leave. The ride today—I have to make some last arrangements on campus and say good-bye to some friends and colleagues—is...

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Contradictions: Some Concluding Thoughts about The Politics of the Trail

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pp. 194-208

I wrote this book as an autoethnography of emotional and experiential exploration of a landscape of political violence and conflict in Israel and Palestine. True, the perspective of the book was mainly limited to the sights and experiences of the bike ride along a small portion of the frontier of Jerusalem (namely, along...


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pp. 209-238


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pp. 239-246


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pp. 257-248

E-ISBN-13: 9780472120284
E-ISBN-10: 047212028X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472052127
Print-ISBN-10: 0472072129

Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 881707853
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Politics of the Trail

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mountain biking -- Jerusalem.
  • Mountain biking -- Political aspects -- Jerusalem.
  • Arab-Israeli conflict.
  • Lowenheim, Oded, 1970-.
  • Jerusalem -- Description and travel.
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