The Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law at Harvard Law School is pleased to announce its upcoming conference on Mizrahi Legal Studies, to be held at Harvard Law School on December 10-11, 2019.
The newly-emerging field of Mizrahi Legal Studies aims at highlighting the specific conditions, experiences, and perspectives of Mizrahi Jews in Israeli law and society, both historically and today. The discipline seeks to develop readings of Israeli law that expose the ethno-racial aspects of what may initially appear neutral, objective, or colorless.
The purpose of the conference is to explore, critique, engage and broaden this emerging area, promoting writing and critical discussion around Mizrahi issues in multiple sites of legal research, including both Israeli and Jewish law. The conference offers a forum to consider, define, and contest the field’s directions in light of comparative and concrete analysis, as well as theoretical inquiry. Despite a robust tradition of critical writing on Israeli law, as well as prolific research in Mizrahi Studies in other disciplines such as history, sociology, and anthropology, the Mizrahi perspective has been traditionally neglected in Israeli legal academia. Recent developments, including Yifat Bitton’s writings, have sparked new scholarship around the topic. This first wave of legal writing on Mizrahi issues focused primarily on the absence of Mizrahi Jews from Israeli law, and the importance of recognizing Mizrahi Jews as a distinct group within legal language and adjudication. And yet, scholarship that moves beyond this prism to analyze Israeli law from a Mizrahi standpoint is still scarce. The conference offers a unique opportunity to take a leading role in shaping this newly-emerging field. We welcome papers exploring Mizrahi perspectives on Israeli and Jewish law. These include, but are not limited to, papers on the histories of Mizrahim and the law, both before and after the establishment of the State of Israel; papers on Mizrahi approaches to rabbinic thought and Halakha, both institutionally and in theory; papers on discrimination against Mizrahi individuals and communities in the Israeli legal system and Israeli society; papers on Mizrahi deployment of political, cultural, and legal power through Israeli and Jewish law and legal institutions; papers that offer a Mizrahi perspective or reading of legal disciplines and/or doctrines; papers examining how Mizrahi narratives interact with national narratives; papers examining Mizrahi positionality and identity vis-à-vis Israel/Palestine, etc.
Abstracts (200-500 words) should be sent to Lihi Yona (firstname.lastname@example.org) by February 15, 2019. A limited number of bursaries will be available to help cover some of the costs for those lacking institutional funding.