The Feminism and Gender area at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute comprises research in feminist theory and gender studies, and develops knowledge for the advancement of social change in these fields. Our activities include lectures, research groups, and research workshops as well as events for the general public, on topics related to feminism and gender that are connected to other fields in social thought.
The Institute has also initiated an innovative project that makes gender-related knowledge and data accessible through the Yodaat (She Knows) website, which gathers knowledge about women and gender in Israel and publishes an annual Gender Index of inequality between women and men in Israel.
We aim to reexamine the conventional theoretical paradigms that have become fixed in feminist thought and in gender studies. At the same time, we aim to create an open and inviting space for feminist researchers and activists from various fields and institutions where they will be able to think about and discuss key questions in contemporary feminist theories and regarding the political, theoretical, and academic challenges this field of thought faces.
In developing this area at the Institute we are acting on the assumption that the concepts underlying the political, liberal (and feminist) subject—such as emancipation, choice, and equality—assumptions that have shaped the goals and the thinking of the second and third waves of feminism —are not sufficient to describe the complex contemporary reality of social power relations, and support political action. Because of this, new theoretical tools are needed to enable complex observation of various gendered spheres while paying attention to how women (and men) shape their subjectivities within social institutions and spaces.
We focus our projects around two central questions: What is the role of gender in shaping an active political subject in various social spheres and which powers and social mechanisms shape this active subjectivity? These questions will be discussed as we examine the array of powers that shapes and dictates the frameworks of choice. Within these frameworks we aim to examine feminist critique, its various forms, and its ability to serve as the basis for collective organization and the consolidation of political knowledge and action.