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Smadar Lavie

Education

  • Ph.D. Cultural Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1989
  • M.A. Cultural Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1981
  • B.A. The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1980
  • Major: Sociology and Social Anthropology; Minors: Medieval Islamic
  • Civilization, Musicology

About

Smadar Lavie is a Mizrahi U.S.-Israeli anthropologist, author, and activist. She specializes in the anthropology of Egypt, Israel and Palestine, emphasizing issues of race, gender and religion. Lavie is the author of The Poetics of Military Occupation (UC Press 1990), receiving the Honorable Mention of the Victor Turner Award for Ethnographic Writing. She coedited Creativity/Anthropology (Cornell 1993) and Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity (Duke 1996). Lavie 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 her lifetime service on behalf of Mizrahi communities in the State of Israel. Her recent book, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel 1st edition (Berghahn 2014) received the 2015 Honorable Mention of the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies Book Award Competition, and was one of the four finalists in the 2015 Clifford Geertz Book Award Competition of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion.

Lavie is a founding member of several feminist and anti-racist social movements and NGOs in Israel-Palestine and the San Francisco Bay area, among them is Ahoti (Sistah) for Women in Israel, the Mizrahi-Palestinian Coalition Against Apartheid in Israeli Anthropology (CAAIA), and the Coalition of Women for Mothers and Children. She is an advisory board member of Israel’s Women Parliament

Research Focus

  • The interplay between neo-liberal state bureaucracies, citizenship, religion, and the raceor gender-based differential access to justice (legal, social, economic, political or cultural).
  • Comparative study of borderlands and diasporas (the Arab-Israeli, US-Mexican borders and the contemporary Muslim migration to Western Europe) through the optics of NGOs, social movements, as these relate to the emergence of Right Wing feminism(s).
  • World Anthropologies; qualitative research methodologies and the employment of the ethnographic method of research and writing in public policy.
  • Critical race theory, intersectionality, as these relate to the study of ritual, religion, performance, and of cultural rights in the context of conflict/post-conflict transitional justice.
  • The study of the Middle East – with emphasis on Egypt, Israel and Palestine, from a global comparative perspective.
  • Community building of non-profit transnational social movements and NGOs focusing on revising state bureaucratic ideologies and practices which are based on racial and gendered classification as a key to resolve ethno-nationalist conflicts

Selected Publications

2018    Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizraḥi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture. 2nd ed. In “Expanding Frontiers: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality” series. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

2014    Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture. New York: Berghahn Book. Honorable Mention for the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies Book Award competition. Finalist for the CLIFFORD GEERTZ PRIZE, Society for the Anthropology of Religion. 

1990    The Poetics of Military Occupation: Mzeina Allegories of Bedouin Identity Under Israeli and Egyptian Rule. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Honorable Mention for the VICTOR TURNER AWARD for Ethnographic Writing. 

Books, Co-Edited: 

1996    Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity. Co-edited with Ted Swedenburg. Duke University Press. 

1993    Creativity/Anthropology. Co-edited with Renato Rosaldo and Kirin Narayan. Cornell University Press.

Referee Journal Articles (selection):

2019    “Gaza 2014 and Mizrahi Feminism.” PoLAR, Political and Legal Anthropology Review 42(3): 85-109. 

2012    “Writing Against Identity Politics: An Essay on Gender, Race, and Bureaucratic Pain.” American Ethnologist, 39(4): 780-804.

2012    “The Knafo Chronicles: Marching on Jerusalem with Israel’s Silent Majority.” Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work. Vol. 27(3): 300-315.

2011    “Staying Put: Crossing the Israel–Palestine Border with Gloria Anzaldúa.” Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly. Vol. 36(1): 101-121. Winner of the GLORIA ANZALDÚA AWARD, the Women’s Committee of the American Studies Association.

2011    “Mizrahi Feminism and the Question of Palestine.” Journal of Middle East Women Studies. Vol. 7(2): 56-88.

2011    “Where is the Mizrahi-Palestinian Border Zone? Interrogating Feminist Transnationalism Through the Bounds of the Lived.” Social Semiotics 21(1): 67-83.

2010    “De/Racinated Transcendental Conversions: Witchcraft, Oracle and Magic among the Israeli Feminist Left Peace Camp.” Journal of Holy Land Studies 9(1): 71-80.

2009    “A Year into Lebanon 2 War: NGO-ing Mizrahi-Arab Paradoxes, and a One State Vision for Palestine/Israel.” Left Curve 33: 29-35.

1996    “Between and Among the Boundaries of Culture: Bridging Text and Lived Experience in the Third Timespace.” Cultural Studies 10(1):154-179.

1993    “Notes on the Fantastic Journey of the Hajj, His Anthropologist, and Her American Passport.” [Co-authored with Hajj A. and Forest Rouse]. American Ethnologist 20(2):363-384.

1992    “Blow-Ups in the Borderzones: Third World Israeli Authors’ Gropings for Home.” New Formations 18:84-106.

1991    “The Bedouin, the Beatniks, and the Redemptive Fool.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video special issue, “Discourse of the Other: Postcoloniality, Positionality, and Subjectivity” ed. by H. Naficy and T. H. Gabriel, 13(1-3): 23-43.

1989    “When Leadership Becomes Allegory: Mzeina Sheikhs and the Experience of Occupation.” Cultural Anthropology 4(2): 99-135.

1984    “Bedouin in Limbo: Egyptian and Israeli Development Policies in the Southern Sinai.” [Co-authored with William C. Young]. Antipode 16(2): 33-44.

Awards

2015        Society for the Anthropology of Religion Clifford Geertz Prize finalist for Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture.

2015        Association of Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS) Book Award competition Honorable Mention for Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture.

2013        “Heart at East” Honor Plaque for committed excellence and lifetime service to the Mizrahi communities of Israel, given by a coalition of twenty NGOs working for equal distribution of cultural funds in Israel.

2009        Gloria Anzaldúa Award Winner, the Women’s Committee of the American Studies Association, for the essay “Staying Put: Crossing the Palestine/Israel Border with Gloria Anzaldúa.”

1990        Honorable Mention, Victor Turner Award for Ethnographic Writing for The Poetics of Military Occupation: Mzeina Allegories of Bedouin Identity under Egyptian and Israeli Rule.

1989        Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award in Humanities, the Middle East Studies Association of North America.