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Diversity as a Mechanism of Depoliticization: The Case of Palestinian Career Women in Israel
Wednesday, 28 Sep 2022
5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Club Spartan (3rd floor of Case Hall), James Madison College
Asian Studies Center
Event Details:

Dr. Sa’ar will address Israel’s recent endorsement of the idea of diversity employment towards its Palestinian-Arab citizens, through the case of Palestinian career women. Her vantage point is the seeming paradox, by which the same governments, over the past two-three decades, have allocated unprecedented funds for Arabs’ economic integration, while simultaneously initiating legislation (notably the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People) that is designed to curb their symbolic and political entitlements. She argues that, in Israel, “diversity” serves as a mediating concept between two contradictory (yet intertwined) forces: neoliberalism, which compels the state to adopt inclusion measures dictated by international bodies, and the state’s commitment to maintaining its Jewish character. The economic integration of the Palestinian citizens is expected to boost productivity and thus benefit corporations and the national economy as a whole. At the same time, it is expected to improve Palestinians’ own living standards, and thus to tame their political resentment. She discusses the implications of these dynamics through the concept of ‘economic citizenship’: examining what happens when diversity becomes a means of addressing minority groups’ economic interests but not their political aspirations. Amalia Sa’ar is an associate professor and chair of the Anthropology Dept. at the University of Haifa. Her main research topics include the intersections of gender, class and citizenship among the Palestinian citizens of Israel, feminist perspectives on security, and generational relations in the Israeli feminist movement. Her first book, Economic Citizenship: Neoliberal Paradoxes of Empowerment (Berghahn Books, 2016) documents economic empowerment projects of low-income Jewish and Palestinian women. Her more recent book, Diversity: Palestinian Career Women in Israel (2021, Open University Press, in Hebrew), in collaboration with Hawazin Younis, documents the journeys of Palestinian women medical doctors, lawyers, and high-tech engineers, and applies a critical lens to the idea of diversity employment. Sa’ar’s forthcoming article in Current Anthropology draws on both these projects and offers an intersectional analysis of economic citizenship among Palestinians in Israel.