This article explores travel narratives of Israeli female backpackers, depicting their participation in a tourist rite-of-passage. The exploration addresses the meeting of narratives of the masculine, adventurous male hero, on both local (Israeli culture) and global-Western (backpacking) spheres, with regard to which the travelers position themselves and negotiate their gender identity. The article deals with two complementary sites of tourist gender performances: one is the actual trip and the other is the performance of travel narratives. The fi ndings indicate that the backpackers assume several, shifting, positions in relation to an oppressive masculine social norm: while some adhere to the norm, others resist it through a subversive participation in alternative backpacking activities or through a reinterpretation of the normative activities. The article foregrounds the central role played by the body in mediating between the individual and the collective. Finally, it proposes further research on how culture and tourism are interwoven, so as to allow a nuanced picture of gender construction in women’s biographies in particular, and in the biography of marginalized people in general.
Keywords: Language; Experience; Identity; Body; Performance; Israeli society.