Two venerated mothers separated by a wall: Iconic spaces, territoriality, and borders in Israel-palestine

Nurit Stadler, Nimrod Luz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)127-141
Number of pages15
JournalReligion and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Berghahn Books.


  • Bethlehem
  • Borders
  • Israel-palestine
  • Jerusalem
  • Our lady of the wall
  • Pilgrimage
  • Rachel's tomb
  • Sacred places


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