Liminal places of memor(ies): the Etzel Museum in Tel Aviv

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The article underscores the need to pay more attention to the silent voices of users of places and passers-by in interpreting their meanings. We argue that while builders represent elite worldviews serving their intent to build and maintain hegemony, users may gain the power to dominate the meanings of places. Liminal places have the potential to become cores of such new creative meanings that may undermine builders' meanings, and at times even cores of new identities that may threaten societal hegemony structures. We test these ideas as applied to the case of the Etzel Museum located in liminal space between Arab Jaffa and Jewish Tel Aviv. It memorializes the Jewish victory over the Palestinian indigenous population in the Israeli War of Independence. A comparison between interpretations of the beholder's eye, builders and passers-by reveals the power of the building to determine some meanings that spring from the building's distinctively liminal status, and the weakness of the building to allow for the emergence of a hub of different meanings around the common significational core. We show also that passers-by were able to adopt independent meanings for the place despite the fact that they were aware of the building's officially inscribed meaning. This demonstrates the need to assign a key salience to users' readings and interpretations in the study of place.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrans: Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • TEL Aviv (Israel)
  • Israeli history


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