Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Masada, a Herodian fortress and the site of an ancient struggle between Jews and Romans that culminated in a mass suicide by 960 Jews, is a symbolically important site for the country of Israel and for the Jewish people. Previous research on Masada has focused on how the story about the site, told through popular culture, in history books, and at the site, has been used to create and maintain a national Israeli and, more broadly, Jewish identity. Masada is the second most visited site in Israel, attracting over 800,000 people each year, and the number of visitors to the site has steadily increased over the last thirty years. When tourists visit Masada, they hear the story of the site and the story is framed so tourists will have a meaningful experience. While some scholars have looked at how the Masada story gets told to tourists who visit the site, these studies all tend to ignore what tourists do at the site. The research, presented this way, seems to assume that tourists and others who hear the story are passive recipients. I argue that tourists who visit Masada take a more active role in the meaning they get from their visit. In this dissertation I focus on what tourists and others do at Masada. I frame these actions as performances, conscious and deliberate acts that constitute who a person is and how they want to be seen. I argue that the touristic performances at Masada are expressions of the meaning that people get from the site and from being on tour. I conclude that being on tour encourages a fluid approach to individual and national identity. As tourists contend with the site, other tourists, and their own identity, tourist sites can be productive spaces to explore who a person is and who they want to be.
Document Availability at the Time of Submission
Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.
Gratch, Ariel, "Masada performances : the contested indentities of touristic spaces" (2013). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 730.