Symbolic places of national history and revival: a study in Zionist mythical geography

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Symbolic places that celebrate history and invest locations with mythical meaning provide a sense of identity in place and time; they fuse history and geography in terms of myth and memory. The retrieval and evocation of ancient history in terms of symbolic places seems to be especially significant in periods of national revival, when the invention and reinvention of tradition feature prominently in the framework of nation-building. This study examines an important aspect of the formation of the mythical geography of Zionist restoration: the retrieval and evocation of ancient Jewish history in terms of Modi'in, Massada, Beitar and Yavneh. These four places have figured prominently in the shaping of the symbolic matrix of Zionist revival. The article examines the emergence of these symbolic locations and elaborates on the cultural and political meanings assigned to them in different periods and political contexts. It further elucidates their association with particular sectors of Zionist society, and their affiliation with ideological perspectives, and focuses on particular symbolic places that have emerged in the course of Zionist restoration and the conflation of a Jewish past and a Zionist present. At the same time, this is a case study of the politics of symbolic places and their role in the shaping of the mythical geography of national revival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-123
Number of pages15
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Beitar
  • Massada
  • Modi'in
  • Symbolic places
  • Yavneh
  • Zionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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