Spatial transgression of new religious sites in Israel

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Religion and the expansion of religious sites throughout the built environment have a long and conflict-ridden history. This paper examines the development of three controversial religious sites in Israel that have developed in recent decades in an effort to better understand the kinds of political, social, and locational circumstances that cause some new sites to be regarded as spatially transgressive. The three sites examined here are the Mormon Center in Jerusalem, the Baha'i Gardens in Haifa, and the Church/Mosque in Nazareth. The study is based primarily on 75 structured, open interviews with stakeholders and decision-makers. The broader aim of the paper is to generate a better understanding of the concept of spatial transgression through systematic investigation based on the methodology of "framing." This methodology provides a comprehensive vocabulary for perceptions, referred to as "frames," and offers a detailed and systematic typology of frames based on the literature and the empirical data (grounded research) of the case studies. The main findings fall within the three aggregated super-frames identified in the research: "Process," "Values," and "Issues." Of these, the Process super-frame was found to be dominant in all three cases. Comparing the different frames in the three cases enabled us to identify the factors that influenced the transgression process. It also facilitated a better understanding of the different "stories" involved and the concept of spatial transgression, which was found to exist on a scale ranging from low to high intensity. This paper also proposes a framing typology that may prove useful for understanding and mapping similar cases elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-114
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Geography
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the Israel Science Foundation for supporting this research. Special thanks are also due to Nurit Kliot for her astute comments and encouragement and to the Journal editor and reviewers for their insights.


  • Baha'i Gardens
  • Conflicts
  • Framing
  • Israel
  • Mormon Center
  • Nazareth
  • Religious sites
  • Spatial transgression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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