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Endowed Chairs and Professors of Israel Studies and Israel/Palestine Studies: Opportunities and Challenges

Sun, December 16, 10:00 to 11:30am, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Federal 1 Complex

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


Currently, there are about 25 endowed chairs and professorships in Israel Studies in leading universities in North America and the United Kingdom, in addition to numerous scholars in Israel who conduct research and maintain a record of publications in the field, without necessarily holding positions that are formally called Israel Studies. Just in the past few years, two additional tenure-track faculty positions in Israel/Palestine Studies have been created (at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Colorado). Most of these positions are located within or are affiliated with preexisting Jewish Studies programs on campus. Among more than 80 Israel Studies programs around the globe, only a few confer degrees in the field; most focus on campus and public programming, student support, and curriculum development within or at the intersection of existing university degree-granting programs. This panel brings together several holders of such positions from across the United States, at public and private universities and at different faculty ranks, to discuss opportunities and challenges from the perspectives of teaching, research, programming, and outreach. We will consider the following questions:
1. How to we work to define “Israel Studies” or “Israel/Palestine Studies” through our teaching, research, programming, and outreach and what opportunities and limitations come from each of these framings both intellectually and institutionally?

2. How to bridge between Jewish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and other relevant units on campus. What are our actual or desired relationships with such programs on our campuses?

3. How do we week to appeal to politically and demographically diverse constituencies on and off campus, including students, faculty, community members, and donors who may be drawn to very different types of offerings or have different ideas in mind of what our goals should or shouldn’t be.

Moderator: Liora Halperin, Jack and Rebecca Benaroya Endowed Chair in Israel Studies and Associate Professor of International Studies, History, and Jewish Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. As the Division Chair of the AJS Israel Studies division, she is particularly interested in exploring meaning of the framing “Israel/Palestine Studies” and the place it holds now and might in the future hold at the AJS and the specific challenges faced by public universities at a time of funding shortages

Arie Dubnov is Max Ticktin Chair of Israel Studies Associate Professor of History, The George Washington University in Washington, DC. He is particularly interested in the history and evolution of the field of Israel Studies itself, and the creative tensions and possibilities that exist between Judaic Studies and Middle East Studies, and institutional or donor-driven pressures that emerge in this area of study of research.

Hilary Falb Kalisman is Endowed Professor of Israel/Palestine Studies and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Colorado Boulder. Coming from a background in Middle Eastern Studies before making her way to Jewish Studies, she situates Ottoman and Mandate Palestine in the context of Middle Eastern and British Imperial history while breaking out of exclusively nationalist frameworks. She is interested in thinking about how to bring both Israel Studies and the less developed field of Palestine Studies cordially to the same table and thus in figuring out what Israel/Palestine Studies is or can be.

Shay Rabineau is Assistant Professor of Israel Studies in the Department of Judaic Studies at Binghamton University (SUNY). His work in Environmental History, the history of Modern Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict looks at the way national narratives are made in part through hiking trails and the physical mapping of landscapes. He is interested in addressing the challenges inherent in studying Israeli-Palestinian issues on the ground while being identified as a scholar of Israel Studies, and in defining the space that Israel/Palestine Studies may be able to cover.

Dov Waxman is Full Professor of Political Science, International Affairs, and Israel Studies, and the Stotsky Professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies at Northeastern University. At Northeastern, Israel Studies is not a program, and he often serves as a bridge between Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies, where he holds affiliations. He is particularly interested in the politicization of Israel Studies and concerns about the field being hijacked by groups external to universities; communicating that Israel Studies is a legitimate field distinct from “pro-Israel Studies,” and managing sometimes difficult relationships between Jewish Studies and Hillel.

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