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Conference | Public event

A New industry in an Ancient Land: Archaeology and Tourism at the crossroads

Thursday 2 June 2022
Leemanszaal (Museum of Antiquities, Leiden) and online

A New industry in an Ancient Land (NIAL) considers the vocabularies of tourism to think about the ways in which Palestine was both produced and consumed by both Arabs, Jews and Europeans.  Archaeology, archaeologists and photography are central: they informed the tourism industry through the production of travel guides and tour manuals, photo books and postcards, and the framing of holy sites and biblical cartographies.

NIAL also considers the relationship between tourism and cultural diplomacy, and thus archaeology, which was central to such endeavours given the formation of the joint British, French and American Archaeological Advisory Board and the ways in which such cultural diplomacy shaped the presentation of archaeological materials. The Palestine Archaeological Museum, now the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, stands testament to such processes.

NIAL will address how local cultural production may have formed as a response to Western scholarly interests in the region. Archaeology became increasingly entwined with Western diplomatic aspirations in the Levant, but also as part of the circuits of popular tourism. In this respect, the biblical overtones of ‘Holy Land’ tourism are both a product of ‘modernity’ (especially the technological infrastructures that enabled it), but also a projection into an ancient past that undermines such modernity.


14:00- 14:40 Part 1 Archaeology and Tourism

Panel with Jasmin Daam (U. Kassel), Sarah Irving (Staffordshire University), Sary Zananiri (Leiden University)

Sarah Irving and Sary Zananiri: ‘Iliffe’ John Henry Iliffe was the first Keeper of the Palestine Archaeological Museum.  His partial diary leaves us an account of his movements and the negotiation of the 1948 war.  Alongside this sits a significant collection of photographs of antiquities, conservation processes and archaeological digs as well as postcards and other collateral produced by the museum that he had preserved.  This visual material tells the story of how an institution and individual navigated archaeological and heritage projects from an academic perspective, while also positioning its activities and collection for popular public consumption.

14:45- 15:40 Part 2 ‘Dutch and the Middle East’

Willy Jansen (Radboud University) & Karène Sanchez Summerer, ‘Holland in the Holy Land- The Holy Land in Holland: The Dutch initiative of the Holy Land Foundation 1903-1933’

Willy Jansen (Radboud University), ‘Constructing an imagined Holy Land in the Netherlands. How Piet Gerrits showed the cultures of the East to the Dutch’

In the early twentieth century the plan was taken up to recreate part of the Holy Land in the Netherlands, to enable the less fortunate Dutch Catholics to experience the pilgrimage to Palestine by visiting the Biblical Museum of the Holy Land Foundation in Nijmegen. In 1915 this museum opened its doors to the public. The multiple representations of the Holy Land that could be admired by the local tourists were designed by Piet Gerrits, an all-round artist and craftsman, who had gained his knowledge of Palestine when working for the Latin missions in the Middle East from 1906 to 1911. In this museum he reproduced, materialized, transmitted and transformed his personal experiences in Trans-Jordan and Palestine.

Willy Jansen will analyse Gerrits’s visualizations of the East in paintings, statues and architecture. she will illustrate three ways in which his experience-based knowledge informed his work: embodied knowledge, material heritage and religious coexistence. Next, she will show that these visualisations were not easily assimilated or copied in Europe, as his representations based on intimate knowledge of everyday life in the Levant clashed with dominant Catholic iconographic norms and the assumptions, dominant representations, and religious aims of other authorities involved. But while his visual narrative was hardly effective in changing Dutch perceptions of the Middle East, his artwork was re-appropriated by Jordanians to restore their damaged local cultural heritage and Christian identity.

Keywords: Imagined Palestine, art, religious tourism

Biography: Willy Jansen is Professor emerita of gender studies at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She did extensive anthropological fieldwork in the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe on gender, identity, sexuality, religion and education. Her books include three on religious tourism: Gender, Nation and Religion in European Pilgrimage. 2012; Moved by Mary. The Power of Pilgrimage in the Modern World.  2009; and Islamitische pelgrimstochten. 1991. Among her published articles relevant for this workshop, may be one on the preconditions for sites of religious tourism to flourish: ‘From Vision to Cult Site. A Comparative Perspective.’ Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions, 55 (151) 2010: 71-90, or two others on sharing or constructing core symbols: ‘Shared Symbols. Muslims, Marian Pilgrimages and Gender.’ European Journal of Women’s Studies, 15 (3) 2008: 295-311; and ‘Visions of Mary in the Middle East. Gender and the Power of a Symbol.’ In: I.M. Okkenhaug & I. Flaskerud (eds) Gender, Religion and Change in the Middle East: Two Hundred Years of History. 2005: 137-154. On early women influencers of ideas on the Middle East, see: Jansen, W. (2000), Women Anthropologists in the Arab World. Recognizing the Pioneers. History and Anthropology 12 (1), 1-27.

15:40-16:10 Coffee/ tea break

16:10 -16:55 Book presentation

The Lives and Deaths of Jubrail Dabdoub (Or How the Bethlehemites Discovered Amerika), Jacob Norris, Univ. Sussex; discussant: Cyrus Schayegh

Online attendance

Please note this event can be followed online with the possibility to interact with the speakers!

Zoom link: https://universiteitleiden.zoom.us/j/62196219593?pwd=b2JxTmV0cWh6ZitXY2kzMjVCT2x4dz09
Meeting ID: 621 9621 9593
Passcode: tjN3h.P#

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