Materiality as an Agency of Knowledge

Competing Forms of Knowledge in Rachel's Tomb in Tiberias

in Journeys
Author: Nimrod Luz 1
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  • 1 Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, Israel luznimrod@mx.kinneret.ac.il
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Abstract

Materiality has become a compelling register through which to examine religious manifestations and matters of belief. There is a mounting awareness among scholars of both the tangible aspects of religion and the ways in which material objects are never neutral. Following these theoretical developments, I argue that materiality can serve as a form of agency for a particular version of knowledge to become conventional and accepted as true. This emerging materiality codifies a certain version of the truth. However, such validation through matter is often challenged and categorized as fake or a myth. To illustrate my argument, I explore the newly emerging site of Rachel's Tomb in Tiberias and the competing versions of truth surrounding it. I contend that its new materiality, which has evolved in recent years, serves as a way of validating the site's new mythology. However, among locals, who are familiar with the site's previous materiality, this new knowledge is pejoratively labeled as fake or mythical.

Contributor Notes

Nimrod Luz is a cultural-political geographer specializing in cultural theories, landscape, and religion. His interdisciplinary research and interests are the multiple and reflexive relations among society, culture (politics), and the built environment with a special focus on Islam and the Middle East, past and present. In recent years he has been exploring the politics of sacred sites in the social and spatial periphery in Israel among different socio-religious groups. In his current project, Religiocity, he theorizes on infrastructures of religion(s) in the urban sphere. E-mail: luznimrod@mx.kinneret.ac.il

Journeys

The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing

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