[P5551] Gender and Labor in Israel/Palestine

Created by Hilary Falb Kalisman
Friday, 11/15/19 5:00pm


The division of labor into gendered spheres, ideals of men's work and women's work and their respective roles in society are an integral part of narratives of modernity, nationalism, globalization and civilization. Tropes of motherhood, domesticity, and as well as national regeneration adapted to and shaped women's growing participation in the labor force. Changing notions of citizenship, modern careers, resistance to colonialism and imperialism as well as stereotypes of "the other" created new masculine ideals, such as the "new Jew" and the "new effendiyya." These ideals, as well as economic and political factors have also shaped the types and amounts of work men and women do into the present. This panel focuses on the gendered dimensions of labor in Palestine and Israel from the late Ottoman period through today. It emphasizes both changing gender roles and also particularly women's agency in to reshape deploying or deploy these tropes in their favor. Rather than simply comparing histories of Jewish and Arab men and women, this panel juxtaposes analyses of both populations in order to gain new perspectives on the changing relationships between gender and labor. It investigates how economic changes, and processes of professionalization affected gender roles for men and women. One paper analyzes the gender of teaching in the Arab population of Mandate Palestine, focusing on conflicting ideals of womanhood, education and teaching as a profession. It shows how notions of woman's place ill fit the role of teacher. While women could enter the profession of teaching, it failed to become "women's work." Another paper will discuss women employed during the Mandate period in health and welfare industries, analyzing women's roles in performing affective labor and, local and colonial expertise. A third paper examines young, Zionist Jewish women in early 20th century Palestine, considering their personal stories of emancipation in order to disrupt notions of a purely masculine ideal tied to muscular Judaism and Zionism. A fourth paper investigates employment trends in the West Bank and Gaza from the Oslo accords through 2017, using data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Satistics. It traces how economic and political factors have at times reinforced traditional gender norms in labor, but at other times have undermined these norms instead.


Econ; Hist



Jennifer Olmsted

(Drew University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;