Each day, as Oded Löwenheim commutes by mountain bike along dirt trails and wadis in the hills of Jerusalem to Hebrew University, he feels a strong emotional connection to his surroundings. But for him this connection also generates, paradoxically, feelings and emotions of confusion and estrangement.
In The Politics of the Trail, Löwenheim confronts this tension by focusing on his encounters with three places along the trail: the separation fence between Israel and the Palestinians; the ruins of the Palestinian village Qalunya, demolished in 1948; and the trail connecting the largest 9/11 memorial site outside of the U.S. with a top-secret nuclear-proof bunker for the Israeli cabinet. He shares the stories of the people he meets along the way and considers how his own subjectivity is shaped by the landscape and culture of conflict. Moreover, he deconstructs, challenges, and resists the concepts and institutions that constitute such a culture and invites conversation about the idea of conflict as a culture.
“Löwenheim’s journey is a personal as well as a political one—he moves through the disputed histories, narratives, and terrains (both physical and imaginative) in an inevitably fractured attempt to make sense of the fractures he encounters. . . . Each chapter’s encounters with the people, land, and histories of Löwenheim’s life in Israel illuminate what is at stake in the way that sociohistorical events are narrated and in the way that political order is socially reproduced.”
—Elizabeth Dauphinee, York University, Toronto
Cover photo by Idit Wagner.