The Holy in Holiday

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Discussion: The Holy in Holiday

In the upcoming week, we are going to analyze and explore the ways in which themes of work, labor and leisure offer us a useful framework to understand the rapidly changing experience of Hajj – the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims must make at least once in their lifetimes – with the rise of large scale developmental projects and other technological innovations that facilitate the pilgrim through the journey and performance of ritual duties.

The first two readings assigned for this week provide a broad overview of what actually happens during the course of the Hajj and are essential for students who don’t have any background knowledge on the subject.

After reading the first two articles in order to familiarize yourself with the particulars of this pilgrimage, you can subsequently proceed to the short New York Times article titled Mecca Goes Mega. While reading the article think about: what it means to be a “holy tourist” in the city? How has the journey to, and experience of, Mecca changed for the pilgrims?

What do the images by Luca Locatelli tell us about how the boundaries between duty and pleasure, and the sacred and the profane are blurred during the pilgrimage?

Finally, the last video is an advertisement for a hotel in the holy city. In watching this advertisement, use your skills in image and film analysis and think through the following questions: how is this hotel marketing itself to potential visitors and pilgrims?

How is the “sacred” being employed in the service of consumerism?


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  1. (Links to an external site.) [HAJJ: AN INTRODUCTION]
  2. (Links to an external site.) [HAJJ RITUALS]
  3. (Links to an external site.) [MECCA GOES MEGA]
  4. Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel (Links to an external site.)[Video of the Hilton Hotel in Mecca]


Last Updated on November 12, 2019