Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York  
American Studies

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Orit Avishai

Orit Avishai, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology (at Rose Hill)
LL.B., Tel Aviv University Law School, 1994;
LL.M., Yale Law School, 1996;
M.A., Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 2007

Office: Dealy Hall 403
441 E. Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458-9993
Phone: (718) 817-3859 Fax: (718) 817-3846

I am an ethnographer who is interested in how ideology and culture, very broadly defined, shape social institutions, political dialogue, and cultural practices. I have written about breast-feeding and the politics of motherhood in the United States, gendered and sexual regimes in Israeli Jewish Orthodoxy, and women in conservative religions. I am currently studying the marriage education movement in the United States.

Research Interests

Gender, religion; marriage and family, qualitative methods; Israel studies.


Articles on Gender, Sexuality & Religion, and Jewish Orthodoxy

2012. "What to do with the problem of the flesh? Negotiating Jewish sexual anxieties." Fieldwork in Religion 7(2):148-162.

2012. "Contesting Sex-restrictive Sexual Narratives from Within: Jewish Laws of Menstrual Purity and Orthodox Sexual Anxieties." In The Ashgate Research Companion to Sexuality and Religion, edited by Andrew Yip and Stephen Hunt. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing.

Forthcoming. "Premarital Preparation as a School for Marriage: Religion, Gender, and the State in Israel." In Religion, Gender, Politics, edited by Hanna Herzog. Jerusalem: Van Leer. (in Hebrew)

2010. "Women of God." Contexts 9(4):46.

2008. “Doing Religion in a Secular World: Women in Conservative Religions and the Question of Agency.” Gender and Society 22(4):409-433.

2008. “Halakhic Niddah Consultants and the Orthodox Women’s Movement: Evaluating the Story of Enlightened Progress.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 7(2):195-216.

2007. “Imagining ‘the Orthodox’ in Emuna Elon’s Heaven Rejoices: Voyeuristic, Reformist, and Pedagogical Orthodox Artistic Expression.” Israel Studies 12(2):48-73.

Articles on Methods Avishai, Lynne Gerber and Jennifer Randles. 2013. “Reconciling Progressive Research Agendas with Fieldwork Realities: The Dilemmas of Feminist Ethnographers.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 42(4):394-426.
Articles on Breast-Feeding Forthcoming, “Breast-feeding.” Entry in the Encyclopedia of Gender and Society. Sage Publications.

2007. “Managing the Lactating Body: The Breast-Feeding Project and Privileged Motherhood.” Qualitative Sociology 30(2):135-152.

2004. “At the Pump: Lactating Bodies at Work.” Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering 6(2):138-149.
Articles on the Marriage Movement Avishai, Melanie Health, and Jennifer Randles. Forthcoming 2012. "Going to School for Marriage." Contexts
Work in Progress

In progress. “Shifting Gender Regimes and Religious Change: Lessons from Jewish Orthodoxy.”

Book manuscript in preparation. Politics of Purity: Menstrual Defilement and the Negotiation of Modern Jewish Femininities.

New research project. Holy Unions: Faith Based Marriage Education and the Remaking of American Religious Traditions.

Non Academic Writing

Op-ed, CNN 8/6/12 “Do Powerful Women Need to Tame their Unsightly Bulges

Op-ed, Washington Post 5/31/12 “Five Myths about Breast-feeding

Op-Ed, CNN, 5/17/12 “Breast-feeding Intuitive and Easy? No!

Courses Taught

Introduction to Sociology; Gender, Bodies, and Sexuality; Identities and Inequalities in American Society; The Ethnographic Method; Diversity in American Families, and Research Ethics.

Qualitative Methods, Gender and Sexuality

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