Concrete U(dys)topia in Bethlehem: a city of two tales (online version)

R Isaac, VCJM Platenkamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this article is to deconstruct the utopian character of Israel by analysing the case of Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. In this illustration of how cultural heritage became dominated by Israel's utopia, this article proposes to create an inspirational alternative. Therefore, two tales of Bethlehem will be juxtaposed. Participatory observation and interviews were conducted in order to examine the context of Rachel's Tomb as well as the family of Claire Anastas. On this platform, different groups of people were invited to discuss complex political issues within the context of alternative tourism. By using Arendt's concept of the ‘agora’ and Habermas' theoretical framework, the lifeworld situation of the Palestinians has been addressed seriously. This creates the necessary condition in order to create hope in a highly politically unstable situation, such as the occupation and colonisation of the Palestinian territories. A critical value-laden perspective supports a stronger concept of communicative action in controversial areas. This concept functions as a structured approach to find an escape from the utopian supremacy of the Israeli ideology. It is an inclusive attempt to create room for a plural dialogue between all the lifeworlds of this region, Palestinians and Israelis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-166
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Tourism and Cultural Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Arendt
  • Bethlehem
  • communicative action
  • counter-discourse
  • mode 3
  • utopia

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