March 17 workshop: "Gendering and Embodying the Jew"

Fri, 02/22/2019

Cara Rock-Singer, a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell in Jewish Studies, affiliated with the Science and Technology Studies Department, and Jonathan Boyarin, the Director of the Jewish Studies Program and a member of the Anthropology Department, have organized a workshop that will take place on March 17, 2019. We invite you to attend! The workshop is open to Cornell faculty and graduate students. Registration is required.

Gendering and Embodying the Jew: Judaism, Secularism, and the Politics of Difference


Sunday, March 17, 2019

9:00 am light breakfast

9:30 am - 6:00 pm workshop

A.D. White House, 29 East Ave, Ithaca, NY

Lunch provided


  • Janet Jakobsen, Barnard College
  • Laura Levitt, Temple University
  • Cynthia Baker, Bates College
  • Sarah Imhoff, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Susan Shapiro, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Vincent Lloyd, Villanova University
  • Daniel Boyarin, UC Berkeley
  • Cara Rock-Singer, Cornell University

Jewish difference has been an essential feature of modern political discourse, at the center of debates about European emancipation, Zionism and nationalism, and acculturation and assimilation. European emancipation and American acculturation were predicated on the assumption that Jewish difference was redeemable because it was abstractable enough for citizenship in secular states. Meanwhile, anti-Semitic discourses have targeted “the Jew” as the epitome of abstract and unproductive financial labor. In these formulations, the subject is always implicitly a male figure. By contrast, both Jewish and non-Jewish discourses often cast Jewish women and Mizrachi/Sephardi Jews as material, emphasizing elements of embodiment, sexuality, and reproductive labor while rendering them invisible as political subjects.

This one-day workshop will explore the gendered Jew as a religious and secular subject. Bringing together scholars working at the intersections of Judaism, secularism, and gender and sexuality in American, European, and Middle Eastern contexts, it will probe how the consideration of sexual, bodily, and racial difference refigure “the Jew.” What might the study of the gendered, embodied, and raced Jew, in turn, reveal about the social, political, and religious hierarchies and structures of power within Jewish communities, and within Jewish Studies? Finally, what might the study of the gendered Jew, in conversation with scholarship on the Muslim other, contribute to debates about the normative structures of post-Protestant secularism?

For more information contact Cara Rock-Singer at

Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program, Institute for Social Sciences, Society for the Humanities, Department of Anthropology, Department of Romance Studies, Religious Studies Program, Department of Science and Technology Studies, Department of Near Eastern Studies,  American Studies Program, Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program, Department of Government, and Department of History.

A. D. White House Cornell