Racial Formation in Israel: Gender, Diaspora, and Occupation

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016 - Thursday, Sep 29, 2016 | 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

691 Barrows Hall


CRG Thursday Forum Series presents…
Racial Formation in Israel: Gender, Diaspora, and Occupation
Commentary: Prof. Keith Feldman, Ethnic Studies
Gaza 2014 and the Mizrahi Predicament: Neoliberalism, Informal activism and Ultra-nationalism in Palestine-Israel
Dr. Smadar Lavie, Beatrice Bain Research Group
What insights can scholars interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict gain from a study of HaLo Nehmedim — the “Not-So Nice” or New Black Panthers, an informal activist group whose leaders are Mizrahi feminists — and their protests against Israeli neoliberal economic reforms in 2014? Why examine intra-Jewish racial and gendered dynamics in the State of Israel while the post-colonial Arab and Muslim states are decolonizing into religious sectarianism? How do bureaucratic structures preempt race- and gender-focused resistance? My paper is a scholarly exploration of the relationships between neoliberal financial reform and intra-Jewish racism as they relate to Israeli ultra-nationalism and the Israel-Palestine conflict. The paper details how in 2014 the Israeli regime entangled protesting mothers in its lethal webs of welfare bureaucracy and relocated protesting men with Order Eights (emergency military duty), preempting any possibility for success.

Backed by ethnographic data and archival research, the paper analyzes the strange temporal proximity between Mizrahi social protests and IDF military operations against Israel’s Muslim neighbors. Through the optics of the War on Gaza 2014, it uncovers how the Israeli regime orchestrates an indeterminacy of crisis that makes Israeli society tick and stick.

Additionally, the paper argue that Israeli racial formations apply essentialized expectations of what I term “GendeRace.” Such foundational assumptions calcify the flow of the intersectionality model. GendeRace thus not only preempts the possibilities of resistive agency, but also creates constituencies for such Mizrahi radical activism as the HaLo Nehmedim among Israel’s ultra-nationalist Mizrahi communities.

Evyn Lê Espiritu, Ethnic Studies
More info soon!
Smadar Lavie is a scholar in residence at the Beatrice Bain Research Group, U. C. Berkeley and a visiting professor at the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century, University College Cork. Lavie spent nine years as tenured Professor of Anthropology at U.C. Davis. She wrote The Poetics of Military Occupation, receiving the Honorable Mention of the Victor Turner Award for Ethnographic Writing, and co-edited Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity and Creativity/Anthropology. She is the winner of the American Studies Association’s 2009 Gloria Anzaldúa Prize and the recipient of the 2013 “Heart at East” Honor Plaque for service on behalf of Mizrahi communities in the State of Israel. Her recent book, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel won the Honorable Mention for the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies 2015 Book Award Competition and was a finalist for the Society for the Anthropology of Religion’s 2015 Clifford Geertz Book Prize.

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