1 DEPLOYING TOURISM
How did a leisure activity like tourism come to figure as a political strategy for building bridges between nation states and transnational diasporas? This chapter introduces the case of Taglit / Birthright Israel, a heritage tour program for diaspora Jews, situating it in the context of the broader field of diaspora tourism that is growing in China, Ghana and elsewhere around the globe.
2 STRIKING ROOTS
A historical overview of diaspora Jewish homeland tourism, spanning the Zionist movement’s initial mobilizations of tourism in the 1920s, the first American Jewish forays into this field in the 1950s, and the developments in American Jewish communal institutions in the 1990s that moved tourism to the center of Jews’ diaspora-state agenda and led to the creation of Birthright Israel.
3 CONTESTING CLAIMS
As visitors tour a land embroiled in conflict, how do the Birthright Israel tours navigate the political and ethical issues involved in representing contested histories and territories? Some answers are suggested through ethnographic portraits of visits to the West Bank separation barrier and the Golan Heights.
4 CONSUMING PLACE
How are places used as symbols? After considering tour guides’ roles in narrating sites and directing the tourist gaze, this chapter looks beyond the guides to consider how tourists themselves act as consumers of meanings about place.
5 COLLAPSING DISTANCE
What happens when tours intended to create feelings of connection lead visitors to feel like foreigners who are not at home in the homeland? This chapter examines the strategies that trip organizers use to counteract the feelings of distance and alienation that the act of tourism itself generates.
6 ENCOUNTERING COMMUNITY
How do tour organizers mobilize group dynamics to serve the goals of building state-informed diaspora identities? This chapter shows how the tour group is used both as a socializing agent to influence how people interpret what they see on the tour, and also as a socializing experience of ethnic community in its own right.
7 LOCATING SELF
Homeland tourism directs the tourist gaze not only outward to the surrounding environment, but also inward to the self. What types of diaspora identities emerge from this?
8 BUILDING DIASPORA
What does homeland tourism teach us about tourism generally? What does it teach us about the political socialization of diaspora communities? How does this bear on crucial questions of nationalism, transnationalism, and the politics of state-diaspora relations?
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