“Once They Touch, They Get Connected” : (re)mediating the past through narratives and performances on the Pilgrimage Road, in the City of David (East Jerusalem)
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This study asks how the past is remembered and (re)mediated in the City of David heritage park in Silwan, East Jerusalem. Addressing the how of heritage design is an understudied aspect of the City of David heritage park. The research material is a 34-minute-long video depicting a guided tour through one of the latest editions to the heritage park’s portfolio – the Pilgrimage Road. The multimedia nature of the material also requests addressing another neglected area of research: the online (re)mediation of heritage. To address the how of heritage design, this study applies the theories of two Germans, Siegfried Schmidt and Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht. While Schmidt addresses the constructivist aspects of memory and remembrance, Gumbrecht establishes a language to address the presencing effects of a heritage site. In combination, their theories help to understand that narratives and performances are central to the video material and entire heritage park. However, by including recent research about the visitors’ role in authenticating heritage sites, this study also shows that the City of David is dependent on a constant stream of visitors, otherwise losing its quality as a functioning mnemotope. Lastly, as the video tour on the Pilgrimage Road also purposefully employs religious imagery and metaphors, this study is obliged to ask if the video material itself functions as an online religious ritual. Here, the result is ambiguous by design. Although the ancient Pilgrimage Road tour can be seen as an eschatologically informed culmination of narratives and performances, it still passes as an online commercial. However, the conspicuous absence of differing narratives, historical layers, or representations will speak most clearly to a religiously receptive audience, understanding the foreshadowed implications of performing pilgrimage on the ancient Jewish Pilgrimage Road.