Producing World Heritage in the White City Tel Aviv

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)

No.1, 2019


Producing World Heritage in the White City Tel Aviv (Abstract)


Robert Flahive


This paper engages with the political and spatial implications of UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Specifically, the paper explores the relationship between notions of heritage, Modernist Movement World Heritage, and nationalist imaginaries. I argue that the World Heritage regime validates and enables state authorities to exercise new forms of hegemonic domination, namely the exploitation of historical narratives to graft specific forms of national identity onto World Heritage Sites with the concomitant erasure of alternative readings and historical layers of a site. This paper focuses on World Heritage Sites in the modernist aesthetic to show these processes in action. I first decouple notions of “heritage” from World Heritage for greater analytical purchase on the embedded politics of modernist World Heritage Site identification and preservation. I then rely on the case of the “White City” Tel Aviv to tease out the narrative construction, erasure of alternative histories and readings of the space, and most importantly, the exercise of new forms of spatial domination at this modernist World Heritage Site. The paper concludes with three recommendations for a more holistic, equitable, and representative World Heritage regime.