Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies Fall Symposium: “Mizrahi Studies at the Intersection: Rewriting Body, Language, and Cultural Memory”
November 30 @ 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM
As an interdisciplinary formation, the field of Mizrahi Studies has generated engaged scholarship that questions the ready-made paradigms of knowledge production. A critical strain has been key to shaping a cross-border Mizrahi epistemology, performed in conversation with multiple fields such as ethnic and race studies, gender studies, cultural studies, and post/colonial studies. Yet the intellectual home of Mizrahi studies remains fraught with ambiguities, symptomatic of an in-between identity which does not always fit neatly into a single institutional space. The very name of the field, “Mizrahi,” exists in relation to other rubrics — Sephardis, Arab Jews, Jews from Muslim countries, Middle Eastern Jews, Asian and African Jews, etc. — each suggesting different mappings and frames of reference. Although not necessarily mutually exclusive, these diverse rubrics suggest the intricacies of a historically recent constructed identity and the multiple genealogies and orientations that mark this compelling area of inquiry. Critical Mizrahi scholars themselves, as writing subjects, have deepened the study of their own variegated communal stories and experiences across multiple geographies.
This symposium aims to address some of the key issues raised by Mizrahi studies as conceptualized through a transnational, transregional, multidirectional, and intersectional prism. Rather than produce a Mizrahi subject in isolation, the symposium will problematize any fixed understanding of Mizrahiness by highlighting the ways this concept is dynamically shaped by class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, nation, and so forth. The symposium strives to illuminate Mizrahi studies as a critical field not simply about the Mizrahim but also about decolonization of knowledge. It hopes to interrogate established categories by asking what constitutes legitimate knowledge when ways of knowing may themselves have to be reconceptualized in a discursive climate saturated with hierarchical, exclusionary, and even violent assumptions? Some additional questions posed by the symposium include: Which methodological paradigms and epistemic frameworks enable the shaping of fragmented memories into a broader and more relational narrative? What kind of obstacles do scholars face in the process of carrying out research involving archival documentation and oral transmission, when such data collection is entangled in histories of obscuring and silencing? What challenges does an academically normative discourse pose for those writing on subjects that touch on traumatic experiences and memories, at once personal, familial, and communal? And what lessons could be learned from more self-reflexive research practices and coping strategies in terms of future scholarship. In sum, this one-day symposium brings together a committed group of scholars working within the broadly construed field of Mizrahi studies, while also reflecting on critical interventions in the field itself.
Panel I: 10:00- 12:00
Reframing Mizrahi Memory
Panel II: 1:00- 3:00
Language and Mizrahi Belonging in Translation
Panel III: 3:30- 5:30
Decolonizing the Mizrahi Body
This is a hybrid event.
Rackham East and West Conference Rooms
Zoom Registration: https://myumi.ch/wMPxz