Dr. Lavie's Lecture Abstract:

Feminist anthropologist Smadar Lavie will discuss her new book, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture 2nd edition (July 2018). The Mizrahim are Jews from North Africa and the Middle East who comprise Israel's majority Jewish population. They suffer from systematic discrimination by Israel's Ashkenazi Jews who drive Israeli policymaking. Lavie's is the first English language ethnography about single mothers in the Middle East. This is one of the very few ethnographies about single mothers outside North America.  The book explores Israel's intra-Jewish racial and ethnic conflicts from a feminist perspective. It analyzes how the plight of Mizrahi single mothers relates to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, as well as its tensions with Iran and other neighboring Arab countries. Lavie uncovers the conundrum of loving and staying loyal to a state that uses its bureaucratic system to repeatedly inflict pain on its non-European majority who, despite this pain, is willing to sacrifice their lives for what they conceive of as the state's security.

From the Reviews of the 1st edition:

"An important and provocative book that deserves to be widely read well beyond anthropology."

—Tobias Kelly, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"This book is not just a unique contribution to understanding gender and race in state bureaucracy and the operations of nationalism in the Middle East…it exposes how inhumanity can be normalized and can thrive in any modern liberal democracy."

—Sealing Cheng, Asian Anthropology

"Rarely one encounters a comprehensive, nuanced, insightful, and realistic exposition on Israeli society packaged in such a slim book."

—Meir Amor, Arab Studies Quarterly

"A masterwork of transnational feminist studies and critical theory, a teachable work from the perspective of a Mizraḥi welfare mother and critical scholar—the like of which does not exist."

—Brooke Lober, Feminist Formations

"The book deals – explicitly and straightforwardly –with the history of Zionism and Mizrahi women, and the wider socio-politics of Mizrahim in Israel. Lavie offers a masterful analysis of the historical Mizrahi support of the Right..."

--Yacov Yadgar, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies​




Room 1016, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building, 6100 University Avenue, Halifax



Additional Information

Professor Smadar Lavie holds the Simon and Riva Spatz Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies for this academic year, and is housed in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University. She is a long-term visiting scholar at the U. C. Berkeley's Ethnic Studies Department 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. 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, and co edited Creativity/Anthropology (Cornell 1993) and Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity (Duke 1996). . 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 her lifetime service on behalf of Mizrahi communities in the State of Israel. Wrapped in the Flag of Israel 1st edition 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.

The Simon and Riva Spatz Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies is intended to bring distinguished scholars from around the globe to share their expertise and perspectives with students and faculty at Dalhousie University and members of the broader Halifax community. The Chair maintains a focus on contemporary topics, but is otherwise broadly inclusive of scholars from a wide variety of arts, humanities, and social science backgrounds.