Courses

Ethnography of the State Seminar 

Over the last two decades, anthropologists have begun to bring ethnographic, experiential, bottom-up and locally-embedded perspectives to study the state. This research seminar is grounded in the ethnographic exploration of the state, and aims to offer analytical, methodological and empirical understandings of it. During this course we will unpack the elusive nature of the state and will identify ways to 'meet the state' ethnographically. The rich ethnographic literature that we will read throughout the year will facilitate critical class discussions on state mechanisms of power and meaning. Class requirements: active participation in class discussions, reading throughout the semester, a presentation of work in progress and a submission of empirical paper.

Anthropology of Judaism: The anthropology of Jews' as a disciplinary sub-field has been historically marginalized to the extent that the question of whether anthropology 'suffers from a Jewish problem' has been explicitly raised. Only in the last three decades we witnessed the emergence of a rich ethnographic engagement with Jewish life and the consolidation of an academic interest in Jews as ethnographic subjects. This course offers an historiographic reading of anthropology and its developments through the angle of 'the Jewish question', as well as a close exploration of the ethnographic perspectives on Jews, through both reading and watching Jewish ethnographies. Class requirements: active participation in class discussions, reading throughout the semester, referat and a take-home test.

Quantification and Social Knowledge Seminar (teaching with Isaac Sasson)

This course offers a critical discussion of numerical forms of knowledge and their privileged role within historical, modern and contemporary formations of social knowledge. Together, we will explore a range of spheres in and through which numerical logics organize society, culture, state and self. We will examine how quantifiably-based knowledge-productions (such as in census taking, demographic discourses and the organization of polls) play a decisive role in shaping institutional processes of regulation, gate-keeping and policy-making. We will also look at how such numerically based projects operate under the authority of science, capitalism, liberalism, human rights discourses, and the state, as well as how these projects constitute and prescribe subjectivities. Through our readings of ethnographic, sociological and historical materials concerning a diverse array of contexts of counting, we will discuss how and why people count, the directions in which the 'quantifying gaze' is directed, and, more generally, 'what counts' and what 'is taken into account.'

Anthropology of Jewish Life

The anthropology of Jews' as a disciplinary sub-field has been historically marginalized to the extent that the question of whether anthropology 'suffers from a Jewish problem' has been explicitly raised. Only in the last three decades we witnessed the emergence of a rich ethnographic engagement with Jewish life and the consolidation of an academic interest in Jews as ethnographic subjects. This course offers an historiographic reading of anthropology and its developments through the angle of 'the Jewish question', as well as a close exploration of the ethnographic perspectives on Jews, through both reading and watching Jewish ethnographies. Class requirements: active participation in class discussions, reading throughout the semester, referat and a take-home test.

Introduction to Anthropology

As a general introduction to cultural and social Anthropology, this course aims to explore questions about what it means to be human. The course introduces the historical trajectories and contemporary approaches that have underwritten cultural and social anthropology as a scientific and humanistic discipline. The course is based on a three-fold structure: 1. a presentation of the foundational issues, disciplinary boundaries and moral dilemmas that have shaped the methodological and analytical engagements of anthropologists; 2. an exploration of some of the key constitutive moments and junctures in the history of the discipline, and the traces that these moments have left on how contemporary anthropologists have come to work, think and write. 3. a consideration of major themes, both canonical and cutting-edge,  in anthropology, including kinship, ritual and exchange. Class requirements: attendance of classes and tutorials; reading throughout the semester and active participation in both web and class discussions; reading of a monograph and submission of a review during the semester; final exam covering reading and class materials.

MA Practicum in Anthropology

The practicum in cultural and social anthropology is a year-long seminar that makes a core element of the graduate program in anthropology at Tel-Aviv University. Designed as a preliminary and practical guide for conducting ethnographic fieldwork (whether as part of an MA thesis or of a graduate seminar), the practicum will be constructed as an ongoing conversation between teachers and student about the practices and challenges entailed in ethnographic research. Students will have a chance to meet guest-lectures of experienced anthropologists, and will be required to read their anthropological work ahead of these meetings. The first part of the practicum will offer students guidance in the processes of choosing a field site, choosing an adviser and working with them, planning the project and making the necessary preparations to actually enter the field. Based on the first phase and the students’ initial experience in the field, the second part of the practicum will engage with the intricate processes associated with ‘entering the field’: how to conduct initial contacts in the field; how to demarcate boundaries, spaces and relationships associated with the field; how to negotiate the often elusive line between participation and observation and more. Later, work will touch on issues that sometime emerge during field research, and help frame these issues methodologically and analytically. By the end of the practicum, students will be hopefully be prepared to move forward and take the thesis-writing seminar scheduled for their second and final year in the program. 

Workshop in Ethnographic Writing