Souvenirs of conquest: Israeli occupations as tourist events

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It is perhaps self-evident to suggest that military conquest shares something with tourism because both involve encounters with "strange" landscapes and people. Thus it may not surprise that the former sometimes borrows rhetorical strategies from the latter - strategies for rendering the strange familiar or for translating threatening images into benign ones. There have been numerous studies of this history of borrowing. Scholars have considered how scenes of battle draw tourist crowds, how soldiers' ways of seeing can resemble those of leisure travelers, how televised wars have been visually structured as tourist events (e.g., the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq), and how the spoils of war can function as a body of souvenirs. These lines of inquiry expand our understanding of tourism as a field of cultural practices and help us to rethink the parameters of militarism and warfare by suggesting ways they are entangled with everyday leisure practices. © 2008 Cambridge University Press.






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Stein, RL (2008). Souvenirs of conquest: Israeli occupations as tourist events. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 40(4). pp. 647–669. 10.1017/S0020743808081531 Retrieved from

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Rebecca L. Stein

Professor of Cultural Anthropology

My research studies linkages between cultural and political processes in Israel in relation to its military occupation and the history of Palestinian dispossession. I am the author of Screen Shots: State Violence on Camera in Israel and Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2021) on the politics of military occupation in the age of the global smartphone camera; Digital Militarism: Israel's Occupation in the Social Media Age (with Adi Kuntsman), on the militarization of social media in Israel; Itineraries in Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Political Lives of Tourism (Duke University Press, 2008) which considers the relationship between tourism, mobility politics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and the co-editor of Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture (Duke University Press, 2005) with Ted Swedenburg and The Struggle for Sovereignty: Palestine and Israel, 1993-2005 with Joel Beinin (Stanford University Press, 2006). 

My most recent work has been a multi-book project about the ways that new communication technologies are meditating the everyday Israeli relationship to its military occupation -- including changing practices and logics of military 'counterinsurgency',  the everyday terms of soldiering, the Israeli civilian relationship to Palestinians under occupation, and the human rights work and anti-occupation activism. My first book within this project --Digital Militarism: Israel's Occupation in the Social Media Age (with Adi Kuntsman) -- studied the place of social media within this equation. My forthcoming book -- Screen Shots: State Violence on Camera in Israel and Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2021) considers the roles of digital photographic technologies and camera investments, with a focus on the multiple communities and institutions, across political divides, who have integrated networked image-making into their political toolbox: Palestinian and Israeli human rights workers and activists, Palestinian civilians living under occupation, the Israeli military, and the Jewish settler population.  All believed that the technological innovations of the digital age would deliver their images – and therein, their political message -- with greater fidelity (closer, faster, truer).  Most would be let down.  Screen Shots focuses on episodes of glitch and lapse in photographic practices, on curatorial and circulatory failures, arguing that the analytics of failure shines a new light on the changing terms of military occupation in the digital age, while pushing back against the recalcitrant techo-optimism that still frames much scholarship in this area. This project has been supported by grants from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Palestinian American Research Council, and the Trent Foundation.

Portions of this scholarship have appeared in Current AnthropologyCritical Inquiry, Anthropological Quarterly, Middle East Report, and the London Review of Books. My work on Israeli cultural politics has appeared in such journals as Public Culture, Social TextThe International Journal of Middle East Studies,Theory and Event, Journal of Palestine Studies, GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies and Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. 

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