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Mizrahi Mothers, Wrapped in the Flag: Ultra-Nationalism, Apartheid, and the Divinity of Bureaucracy in Israel

What is the relationship between social protest movements in the State of Israel, violence in Gaza, and the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran? Why did the mass social protests in the State of Israel of summer 2011 ultimately fail? In this lecture and book launch, Professor Smadar Lavie will discuss social protest movements from the 2003 Single Mothers’ March led by Mizrahi Vicky Knafo, to the “Tahrir is Here” Israeli mass protests of summer 2011. Equating bureaucratic entanglements with pain—what, arguably, can be seen as torture, Lavie explores the conundrum of loving and staying loyal to a state that repeatedly inflicts pain on its non-European Jewish women citizens through its bureaucratic system. In her book, she presents a model of bureaucracy as divine cosmology and posits that Israeli State bureaucracy is based on a theological essence that fuses the categories of religion, gender, and race into the foundation of citizenship.

Event Details

Speaker: Professor Smadar Lavie, University of California, Berkeley
Chair: Dr Sumi Madhok, LSE
Date:  Monday 27 October 2014
Time: 18.30-20.00
Location: Room 2.02, Clement House, LSE|
Event Hashtag: #LSELavie
Attendance: This event is free and open to all on a first come first served basis. Our events are very well attended, please make sure to arrive early. We cannot guarantee entry.

Review of the book

"This a powerful, indeed an exceptional, book on the fate of Mizrahi single mothers in today's Israel - This is a tough book, without sentimentality, without kitsch, without the romanticism and idealism within which Israeli middle-class Jews love to bedeck themselves and present themselves, especially to Western middle-class Jews abroad - A sad book in which nothing is prettified, in which the harshness of Mizrahi single mothers living from hand to mouth is front and center. There is no upbeat ending, no sense of social justice on the way. This book is a discussion of a national tragedy which implicates many categories of person in Israel: Ashkenazim, Mizrahi men, bureaucrats, politicians, powerful unions, corporations, and others." -- Don Handelman, The Hebrew University



Smadar Lavie is a scholar in residence at the Beatrice Bain Research Group of 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 Assistant and Associate Professor of Anthropology at the U.C. Davis. She specialises in the Anthropology of Egypt, Palestine, and the State of Israel, with emphasis on issues of race, gender, and religion.

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