Sacred Sites in Contested Regions

Lectures & Publications

Glocalizing the Haram al-Sharif

The Glocalisation of al-Haram al-Sharif Landscape of Islamic resurgence and national revival: Designing memory, mystification of place

To be published in: U. Martensson, I. Weismman & M. Sedgwick (eds.), Islamic Resurgence in the Age of Globalization: Myth, Memory, Emotion.

Nimrod Luz

In this paper I seek to develop a deeper understanding of the spatial, political, and social aspects of Islamic resurgence, both at large and—in particular—in Israel. I ask how the most holy Islamic place there, the Haram al-Sharif, is being perceived, produced and promoted as a nexus for Palestinian communities, as both a religious symbol and a national icon. I explore how its unique status as the third most Islamic site, and its role as a sacred religious icon among contesting parties, transform it into one of the most intriguing localities, where images, meaning, and actual control are constantly being contested and fought over. The local Islamic movement is certainly the most tenacious and active force behind the mystification of the place, not only as a global Islamic monument, but also a local national icon. Concomitantly with global processes of Islamic resurgence, the place has become a spatial metaphor for the status and state of the Israeli-Palestinian minority both on the local-national scale and the global one. This is achieved through various processes: contestation of meaning and over-surplus of meaning, inclusion (mystification) and exclusion of other (demystification).  It is the premise of this lecture that through ideas of sanctity and myth, and through the agency of the sacred, we may understand better aspects of Islamic resurgence, in the context of the secularization debate and of the nation state in the age of globalization. My exploration of the Haram al-Sharif and the role of the Israeli-Palestinian Islamic movement therein are based on contextualization of place as an open-ended ever-changing locality. The theoretical foundation of this work rests on three concepts to be found in recent developments of cultural and political and economic geography: place, scale and glocalisation. Through the contextualization of the sacred I analyze the ways in which the Israeli-Palestinian Islamic movement is producing, promoting, and actively changing the ways the Haram al-Sharif Haram is being perceived within varying scale levels.

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