Performing Participation/Performing Protest: The Semiotics of National Identity and Commemorative Rituals in a Heritage Site in Jerusalem

In this lecture I examine acts of participation in an Israeli military heritage site located in Jerusalem. Ethnographic data collected at the Ammunition Hill National Memorial Complex (Giv'at Hatachmoshet), reveals insights into rituals of participation in national commemoration in Israel. More specifically, the data to be presented includes entries written in the Ammunition Hill commemorative visitor book, as well as ethnographic observations of the embodied acts of inscribing these entries. The analysis of the discursive corpus of commemorative entries shows how different populations of visitors understand the narrative unfolded at the Giv'at Hatachmoshet, and the ways these populations choose to partake and perform their roles therein. These roles and performances seem to vary roughly according to two parameters. The first parameter concerns the place of origin of the visitors, i.e. whether they are local Israeli sightseers or international tourists (mostly organized groups of Zionist Jews from North America). The analysis of the differences between these groups with regards to national commemorative rites and rituals sheds interesting light on the Israel-Diaspora relations. The second parameter concerns the ethno-demographic background of the population of local (Jewish) Israeli visitors. Here we find that at stake are peripheral populations, which see their visit to Jerusalem, and specifically their performances at the national commemoration site as a rite of participation and belonging in the imagined community of present-day Zionism (Noy, 2008a,b). Overall, the analysis shows that while most of the visitors perform acts of confirmation of and participation in the national Zionist narrative, some make use of this stage to perform critiques and protests of various non/post-Zionist persuasions, which are sometimes severe and refuting wit regards to the national(ist) narrative.

Noy, C. (2008a). Mediation Materialized: The Semiotics of a Visitor Book at an Israeli Commemoration Site. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 25(2), 175-195.
Noy, C. (2008b). Pages as Stages: A Performance Approach to Visitor Books. Annals of Tourism Research, 35(2), 509-528.

go back to Recent and Forthcoming Conferences and Presentations