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Mizrachi Witches in Israeli Cinema

Rachel S. Harris
November 1st, 2016
12:00 PM

  Archived

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Forum for Scholars and Publics (Old Chemistry Building 011)

12:00 - 1:00

Light lunch provided

Rachel S. Harris gives a lunch seminar on "Mizrachi Witches in Israeli Cinema." A rise in Israeli filmmaking during the 1990s led to a new fascination with women's representation and depictions of Mizrachi ethnicity. These two spheres coalesced into recreations of an imaginative cinematic landscape set in a fictional Israel of the 1950s and 1960s. In these peripheral locations on the edge of the desert Mizrachi women were represented as ancient matriarchs holding secrets over life, death, love, sex and health. Reclaiming their identity, Mizrachi women filmmakers explored the complexities of being both ethnic and female - upending conventions of their representation as exotic, lustful projections of male fantasies. Instead they embraced female power, developing the image of the Mizrachi matriarch as a witch and a funeral wailer as a way to comment on the mistreatment of marginalized communities within Israel.

Sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies.

Rachel S. Harris

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Rachel S. Harris is Associate Professor of Israeli Literature and Culture at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of An Ideological Death: Suicide in Israeli Literature (Northwestern University Press, 2014) and the forthcoming Warriors, Witches, Whores: Women in Israeli Cinema (Wayne State Press, 2017).