Sacred Sites in Contested Regions

Lectures & Publications

Materiality and Resistance

Materiality and Resistance:The Lababidi mosque in Acre

Abstract of a paper presented at

Religious Rivalry and the City, 32nd ISSR Conference, Turku-Åbo, Finland, 27-30 June, 2013

Nimrod Luz and Nurit Stadler


In this paper we demonstrate transformations of urban landscapre, religiousity and identity, through the analysis of observations of a reconstruction process of a mosque in Acre. In the summer of 2005, the Municipality of Acre (an ethnically mixed city in northern Israel) along with the Old Acre Development Company Ltd carried out a reconstruction project of the Lababidi mosque, a family endowment dating to the 1930’s. The renovation plan instigated a heated debate among city’s inhabitants, organizations, and officials. The gist of it was an on going controversies within the Jewish majority of Acre regarding the Arab minority right of access to its former past, history, and indeed memory. After a quiescent period of seven years, the Islamic Endowment Authorities of Acre launched a ratoration project which ultimately reinstated the compound to its original function; an Islamic house of prayer. Since, March 2012, and against the backdrop of growing unrest and militant declaration of various member of the majority community regular paryers are conducted in the mosque five times a day and throughout the week. In this paper we follow the the reconstruction process and the public debate that followed from a myriad of perspectives and ethnographic encounters, thus allowing as many memories and understandings of this place to be heard. This approach also enables an exploration into the ways religious claims are used as forms of resistance, identity contstruction and follows the role of religious materiality in reinscribing the dispossed community into the urban landscape.