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Two Venerated Mothers Separated by a Wall

Iconic Spaces, Territoriality, and Borders in Israel-Palestine

Nurit Stadler and Nimrod Luz

This article explores the role of sacred places and pilgrimage centers in the context of contemporary geopolitical strife and border disputes. Following and expanding on the growing body of literature engaged with the contested nature of the sacred, this article argues that sacred sites are becoming more influential in processes of determining physical borders. We scrutinize this phenomenon through the prism of a small parcel of land on the two sides of the Separation Wall that is being constructed between Israel and Palestine. Our analysis focuses on two holy shrines that are dedicated to devotional mothers: the traditional Tomb of Rachel the Matriarch on the way to Bethlehem and Our Lady of the Wall, an emergent Christian site constructed as a reaction to the Wall. We examine the architectural (and material) phenomenology, the experience, and the implications that characterize these two adjacent spatialities, showing how these sites are being used as political tools by various actors to challenge the political, social, and geographical order.

Free access


Materialities, Histories, and the Spatialization of State Sovereignty

Valentina Napolitano, Nimrod Luz, and Nurit Stadler

In the introduction to this special section of Religion and Society, we discuss existing and potentially new intersections of border theories and religious studies in relation to two contested regions—US-Mexico and Israel-Palestine (as part of the history of the Levant)—respectively. We argue for a recentering of borderland studies through an analysis of political theologies, affective labor, and differing configurations of religious heritage, traces, and materiality. We thus define 'borderlands' as translocal phenomena that emerge due to situated political/economic and affective junctures and that amplify not only translocal but also transnational prisms. To explore these issues, we put into dialogue studies on religion, borderlands, walls, and historical/contemporary conditions in the context of US-Mexico and Israel-Palestine borders. In particular, we argue for recentering analyses in light of intensifications of state control and growing militarization in contested areas.

Open access


Juan Javier Rivera Andía, Mansheetal Singh, Don Handelman, Nurit Stadler, Timothy P. A. Cooper, Nella van den Brandt, Elza Kuyk, Paul-François Tremlett, Lieke Wijnia, Gemma Aellah, Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic, Silvia Rivadossi, Inês Lourenço, and Davide Torri

VALERI, Valerio, Classic Concepts in Anthropology, 280 pp., appendix, bibliography. Chicago: HAU Books, 2018. Paperback, $30.00. ISBN 9780990505082.

VIVEIROS DE CASTRO, Eduardo, The Relative Native: Essays on Indigenous Conceptual Worlds, 366 pp., bibliography, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. Paperback, $35.00. ISBN 9780990505037.

ABRAMSON, Allen, and Martin HOLBRAAD, eds., Framing Cosmologies: The Anthropology of Worlds, 336 pp., bibligraphical references, index. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014. Paperback, $35.00. ISBN 9781526107183.

WEIL, Shalva, ed., The Baghdadi Jews in India: Maintaining Communities, Negotiating Identities and Creating Super-Diversity, 202 pp., illustrations, notes, references. London: Routledge, 2019. eBook, $42.00. ISBN 9780367197872.

STADLER, Nurit, Voices of the Ritual: Devotion to Female Saints and Shrines in the Holy Land, 216 pp., notes, bibliography, index. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. Hardback, $110.00. ISBN 9780197501306.

RUFFLE, Karen G., Everyday Shi‘ism in South Asia, 368 pp., illustrations, teaching appendix, glossary. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2021. Paperback, $45.00. ISBN 9781119357148.

“MARIA MAGDALENA” EXHIBITION Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht, the Netherlands, 25 June 2021–9 January 2022

ASIMOS, Vivian, Digital Mythology and the Internet's Monster: The Slender Man, 256 pp., figures, diagrams, bibliography, index. London: Bloomsbury, 2021. Hardback, $100.00. ISBN 9781350181441.

MORGAN, David, The Thing about Religion: An Introduction to the Material Study of Religions, 268 pp., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2021. Paperback, $24.95. ISBN 9781469662831.

POLTORAK, Mike, dir., The Healer and the Psychiatrist, 2019. Documentary film, Tongan and English, color, 74 min. Distributed by Documentary Educational Resources.

TREMLETT, Paul-François, Towards a New Theory of Religion and Social Change: Sovereignties and Disruptions, 200 pp., figures, notes, references, index. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021. Hardback, $110.00. ISBN 9781474272568.

KENDALL, Laurel, Mediums and Magical Things: Statues, Paintings, and Masks in Asian Places, 280 pp., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. Oakland: University of California Press, 2021. Paperback, $34.95. ISBN 9780520298675.

LANG, Natalie, Religion and Pride: Hindus in Search of Recognition in La Réunion, 234 pp., illustrations, glossary, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2021. Hardback, $135.00. ISBN 9781800730274.

JOHNSON, Andrew Alan, Mekong Dreaming: Life and Death Along a Changing River, 208 pp., illustrations, notes, references, index. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020. Hardback, $99.95. ISBN 9781478009771.