Smadar Lavie is an American-Israeli anthropologist, author, and activist. Throughout her academic career, the Israeli-born Lavie has specialized in the anthropology of Egypt, Israel, and Palestine, with special focus on issues of race, gender, and religion. Her award-winning Ph.D. dissertation eventually became her first book, The Poetics of Military Occupation (1990), which explores the realities of Bedouin tribes living in the Sinai, caught between two occupations (Egyptian and Israeli) and their protestations to living under both. Her most recent book, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture (2014), presents a model of Israeli state bureaucracy whereby the categories of religion, gender, and race become the ironclad rubric used to sort citizens into binaries: Jews versus Goyim, rich versus poor, Men versus Women, White versus Black. In doing so, Lavie demonstrates the relationships between social protest movements in the State of Israel, violence in Gaza, and the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran. The book is also partly an “auto-ethnography, detailing Lavie’s life as a welfare mother and her leadership in Ahoti, Israel’s first Feminist of Color movement. It also exposes the structural apartheid between” Mizrahim (Jews from the Muslim and Arab World) and the state’s Ashkenazi ruling minority.
Lavie spent nine years as Assistant and eventually Associate Professor of Anthropology and Critical Theory at UC Davis. She has also held numerous visiting professorships, at Diabolo Valley College (1984), Macalaster College (2007-2009), the University of Virginia (2009 -2010), and the University of Minnesota (2010-2012). She also currently serves as a scholar in residence, from 2012 to 2016, at the Beatrice Bain Research Group within the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley. During her residency, she pursued a research project turned book of essays focused on “the relationships that exist in the Arab Israeli borderlands among Mizrahi…feminists, Ashkenazi…feminists, Israel’s Mizrahi majority and the state’s Ashkenazi-dominated regime.”
The recipient of numerous accolades as well, in 2009, Prof. Lavie won the American Studies Association’s Gloria Anzaldúa Prize for her article, “Staying Put: Crossing the Palestine-Israel Border with Gloria Anzaldúa,” published in Anthropology and Humanism (2011), and in 2013, she won the “Heart at East” Honorary Award for her lifetime of service to Mizraḥi communities in Israel-Palestine. While still in graduate school at UC Berkeley, Lavie co-founded the Committee for Academic Freedom in the Israeli Occupied Territories, and has served a number of roles throughout the years within Israel’s feminists of color movement, Ahoti. Prof. Lavie also co-founded Coalition of Women for Mothers and Children, acting as co-director from 2003 to 2006, and has been a member of the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition since 2002.
For a more in-depth look into her life and work, check out this link.