Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
التضامن الإيرلندي الفلسطيني

[Dublin] Lecture: ‘Ordinary Palestinians’ in the ‘City of David’: Tourism as a Battleground of Identity in Israel/Palestine (TCD)

Lecture by Dr. David Landy on Wednesday 14th May 2014, at 6.15pm in The Long Room Hub in Trinity College Dublin (map here).

This lecture will investigate contested tourist discourses around the site of Silwan in Jerusalem.  By examining how the tourist narratives of a specific contested site in Jerusalem represent both the site and the tourists themselves, the paper examines how tourism can serve to provide a discourse of disempowerment and even negation to those living in the destination country. Specifically the paper interrogates the power dynamics inherent in how ‘international’ activists and tourists relate to ‘local’ Palestinians.

The tourist site under investigation is narrated on the one hand as being ‘Silwan’, an ordinary East Jerusalem Palestinian neighbourhood under threat of destruction by an Israeli government intent on expelling non-Jews from Jerusalem. On the other hand, the site is narrated as ‘the historic City of David’ where excavations will prove the extent of the historic Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. How it is narrated depends on whether the tour of the area is organised by tourist and Zionist groups or by Palestine solidarity groups.

The lecture will draw on interviews, documentary analysis and participant observation of such tours. While on Zionist tours, the existence of Palestinians is effaced in their effort to portray Israel as the centre of diaspora Jewish existence, on the solidarity tours the presence of Palestinians is highlighted. However, it is open to question whether these Palestinians are accorded an equivocal status, that of ‘ordinary’ and ‘local’ figures, in contrast to the imagined figure of the transnational solidarity activist who, deriving their identity from the contrast, is then empowered to represent these ordinary local Palestinians.

About the speaker:

Dr. David Landy is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin. His main research interests are in transnational social movements, solidarity, and race and ethnicity. He is the author of “Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel'(2011).

Organised by Trinity College Dublin Public Lecture Series