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Ayala Emmett


PhD, Anthropology, University of Rochester, 1980

MA, Anthropology, University of Rochester, 1977

BA, English Literature, Sociology, and Social Anthropology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, 1973

Research Interests

Professor Emmett received her B.A. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem Israel, in English Literature, Sociology, and Anthropology and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Rochester. Professor Emmett's dissertation research, which was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, focused on the articulation of gender and ideologies of equality. Her doctoral research explored parenthood as a site for constructions of American ideologies of equality at the intersection of domestic and public roles. Parenthood brought forth a complex navigation of equality/inequalities in which gender intersected with larger social struggles of marginalized groups for equality.  

Emmett’s second large project was located in Israel and shifted the focus from domestic to public articulations of gender as women’s peace groups challenged the state’s claims of democratic ideas of equality in the face of its continued occupation. Women’s peace groups were embedded in complicated ways in the intersection of gender inequalities in Israeli Jewish society, the state’s occupation of Palestinian territories, and the marginalization of Israeli-Arab citizens. Emmett’s current project in the United States focuses on Diaspora-Homeland relations and is two-fold: it focuses on an ongoing gender struggle for women’s equality in synagogues and on a fast emerging and influential J Street, a Jewish American group promoting peace and a two-state agreement. While different in their construction of Diaspora-Homeland relations, both movements draw on shared sources of legitimacy for inclusive equality and provoke nuanced meanings of nation, religion and ethnicity.

As part of this project Emmett launched in 2014 a website, The Jewish Pluralist that offers a space for the publication of diverse articles concerned with living traditions of Judaism embedded in contemporary concerns of Jewish and non-Jewish life in America and Israel; it questions conventional divisions between secular and Jewish ethics of justice and examines the intricacies of a shared historic heritage and the different life experiences of Israelis and Americans that shape their respective concerns with ethics and social commitment.

Women in Black Peace Vigil, Jerusalem, 1990

Women in Black Peace Vigil, Jerusalem, 1990

Professor Emmett's book on Israeli politics and women's peace activism, Our Sister's Promised Land: Women, Politics and Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence, was supported by a grant from the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation and published by The University of Michigan Press in 1996. Her book was reissued in a paperback 2003 edition with a new, updated introductory chapter.

Professor Emmett has widened her scholarly, publications, and teaching interests to include creative ethnography. She was the recipient of the 2000 Humanistic Anthropology Fiction Award for her story "Going to America Under the Jacaranda Tree." Three of her ethnographic fictions stories were published in Anthropology and Humanism. Two of these stories are chapters from her ethnographic novel After the Disappearance, about the shocking disappearance of well-known Israeli journalist who promoted the rights of Israeli-Arabs in the 1950s.

Professor Emmett was the Chair of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology Fiction Award, the Associate Editor of the journal Sex Roles and is the founder and director of Seeds for College, a university affiliated and community-based foundation with the goal of helping inner city minority children to successfully graduate from high school and awards them seed money to go to college.

Fellowships, Honors & Awards

Courses Offered (subject to change)

List of Past Courses

Selected Publications