Negotiated space: Tourists, pilgrims, and the Bahá'í terraced gardens in Haifa

Jay D. Gatrell, Noga Collins-Kreiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the inherent contradiction and conceptual conflict that arises when sacred sites are marketed as secular for the purpose of promoting tourism. The question of conflict is further frustrated within the context of Israel's contested religious landscape and Israeli policy. Using a Lefebvrian framework, the historical development of the Bahai Gardens in Haifa, Israel, the tourism board's promotion of the site as Haifa's primary tourist designation, and the distinct spatial practices that have been used by both constituencies are investigated. Further, the authors posit that the Bahai Gardens are multi-dimensional spaces characterized by two different socio-spatial processes and practices that co-exist-the tourist's and the pilgrim's. These practices transform the holy site into a secular shared community asset. The paper concludes with a discussion of the socio-spatial implications of the case and its broader implications concerning the globalization of tourism and the efficacy of developing "layered" Lefebvrian triad to try and avoid conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-778
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported—in part—by funds provided by the Indiana State University College of Arts & Sciences and the Office of International Affairs. Additionally, Jay greatly appreciated the local assistance provided by Igal Charney (Haifa). Likewise, the authors acknowledge the comments and input of Maoz Azaryahu (Haifa), David J. Nemeth (Toledo), Robert Q. Hanham (West Virginia), and Barney Warf (Florida State) into earlier drafts of this article. Finally, the authors especially appreciated the insights of Christopher Buck (Michigan State) into the Bahá’í faith. Finally, the authors appreciate the comments of the editors and reviewers.


  • Bahá'í
  • Lefebvre
  • Pilgrimage
  • Tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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