Research

I research Iraqi Jewish women in the mid-twentieth century, a community that is commonly engaged with from non-race standpoints. This research is illuminating for scholars of the modern Middle East, Race, and Gender, because it showcases race as a category of analysis in modern Middle East history that is as salient as the more often used categories of religion and ethnicity. My dissertation “Watching Whiteness Work?: The Racialization of Jewish Women in Iraq and Israel/Palestine,” shows that by delineating racialization, scholars will better understand why Jews felt like they belonged in Iraq and why this was absent upon their 1950s immigration to Israel. Previous scholarship using lenses like ethnicity and nationalism has done well to establish a stasis of belonging or non-belonging, but it is an intersecting race-gender lens that does more to unravel why Jews were so rooted in Iraq and why Israeli marginalization was so alienating. My work shows the range of mutually constituted gender and race logics that informed Iraqi Jewish women’s worldview and insists that because Jews were racialized differently according to Zionist, Communist, Iraqi nationalist, and Arab nationalist dictates in Iraq, their path to full belonging in Israel was impeded as they encountered more restrictive racialization. I focus on women’s racialization in particular, due to the fact that racialization is always gendered as well as to increase historical descriptions of Iraqi Jewish women on their own terms. My research is significant because if not for a race analysis, belonging (or lack thereof) has the tendency to seem natural via the existence of immutable difference, when in fact it is constructed.