The actualization of the critical impulse in critical theory : dialogical rationality around Rachel`s tomb in Bethlehem, Palesine

R Isaac, V Platenkamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


In this review article, Isaac and Platenkamp argue that during the 1930s and 1940s of the previous century, concepts like "critical" and "essence" were still defined and understood in the tradition of what increasing numbers of academics called "Critical Theory." However, they suggest that since then the situation has significantly changed. In their view, while Critical Theory critically approaches the ideologies of the modern Western world, it has actually (itself) became a victim of this overwhelming critique of ideologies. To Isaac and Platenkamp, the main conceptualizations in and for Critical Theory have been weakened by a content inflation in the new historical phase of postmodernism. Thus, for instance, as a concept "criticism" had been revitalized to (down to?) a relativist position. In this review article, Isaac and Platenkamp suggest that academics in Tourism Studies now inherently claim to be "critical" by just appropriating the mere qualification critical, ipso facto. In this light, the old vital value of "Essence" thereby has become a superficial concept of old primitive ideologies, today, and it seems to have no meaningful function anymore in Tourism Studies. This review article thus aims to reintroduce the field of Tourism Studies to Marcuse's original concept of Essence and discuss it vis-à-vis its interpretational confrontation with the said postmodernist position and thereby to the very revitalization of the qualification "critical." Hence, Isaac and Platenkamp seek to save this qualification from the postmodernist attacks on the universality of the Critical Theoretical position by drawing particular attention to Arendt's concept of the agora, viz. as that kind of public space (comparable to the forum Romanum), in which people significantly present themselves as individuals with independent opinions. In this regard, Isaac and Platekamp are particularly disturbed by the recent flowering of the so called "Critical Turn" group (or network) within Tourism Studies since it appears to progress without a thorough understanding of Critical Theory, per se. They argue that classical thinkers of Critical Theory need to be addressed and understood if the Critical Turn group of scholars in Tourism Studies may decently/faithfully/meaningfully be deemed to be critical. In order to make their case, Isaac and Platenkamp highlight the case of Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. They position the Tomb as a very important biblical tourism site (and agora) by and through which the revitalization of the "critical" may be incorruptibly recognized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-113
Number of pages13
JournalTourism Analysis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • agora
  • Bethlehem
  • critical essence
  • Rachel`s tomb
  • Rachel's Tomb
  • 2
  • 3
  • Critical essence
  • Modes 1
  • Agora


Dive into the research topics of 'The actualization of the critical impulse in critical theory : dialogical rationality around Rachel`s tomb in Bethlehem, Palesine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this