Othering Palestine: Tourism as a Discourse of Conquest in the Postcolonial

By Molly Theodora Oringer
Submitted to Session P4312 (Postcolonial Shame, 2016 Annual Meeting
Anthro
Palestine;
Arab-Israeli Conflict;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Israel’s tourism industry, growing each year, contributes significantly to the country’s GDP and relies on the continued control of Palestinian land not only through military occupation but the presence of social and cultural institutions that stake claim to this territory. Simultaneously, Israel incorporates Palestinians, whether citizens and occupied subjects, into the national milieu as portrayed to tourists both through its employees and projections of “good Arabs” in its curated experiences. Drawing from traditions of postcolonial and affect theories, I aim to analyze how employees navigate tacit denials of identity and how—and whether—feelings of shame play into realities of working-class Palestinians whose financial sustenance relies on the affirmation of an ongoing settler-colonial project. Often passing through military checkpoints, scaling the 8 meter-high separation wall, or traveling to settlements in order to reach jobs, Palestinians working in the tourism industry routinely risk their wellbeing to support an industry that affirms Jewish right to the territory, history, and discourses of belonging from which they are excluded.
In conjunction with an organized panel addressing themes of postcolonial shame, my research will aim to address the ways in which Palestinians employed in touristic ventures in Israel/Palestine tailored to the narratives of both Israeli and diasporic Jewish tourists confront the erasure of Palestinian narratives. I will pay particular attention to those who engage in the visual and experiential transmission of visual culture, media, and sensual traditions, including artisans and souvenir merchants, Naqab Bedouins whose livelihoods rely on providing young Jewish-American tourists ostensible exotic desert excursions, and the families whose villages serve as weekend culinary getaways for Israelis, offering “authentic” Arab experiences. In order to consider tourism within the larger scope of Israeli visual culture, I will look at advertising schemes that portray these excursions and the ways in which Arab authenticity is portrayed. Drawing from traditions of postcolonial and affect theories, I aim to analyze how employees navigate tacit denials of identity and how—and whether—feelings of shame play into the realities of working-class Palestinians whose financial sustenance relies on the affirmation of ongoing an settler-colonial project. In terms of labor, what are the bodily effects of conforming to the particular state-sponsored narrative of indigineity? In what ways do conforming to the expectations of tourists dictate the way in which the employee carries herself and speaks to the concept of communal affinity?