Research Lab: Contemporary Feminist Political Subjectivity

Years of Activity: 2018 - 2019

Research Status:


The research lab is an innovative feminist project that began at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute in 2018. The project reflects on the characteristics of contemporary feminist political subjectivities, and  examines what political life it enable, and whether effective political collectivity is emerging from it.

The first aim of the project is to formulate new analytical perspectives that can contend with new and continuing configurations of the gendered reality. The second aim is to conduct a reflexive examination of the contemporary feminist theoretical frameworks as a sphere that shapes the possibilities of political life.

The project’s point of departure is that existing concepts and perceptions that underlay the view of the feminist political subject, such as liberty, choice, and equality, are no longer sufficient to describe the multiplicity of gendered experiences. Moreover, perceptions of social agency and the assumptions regarding the ways in which social power shapes subjectivity, which were central to the second and third waves of feminism, do not succeed in describing the complex contemporary reality of social power relations and enabling action within it. Therefore, new theoretical tools are needed to comprehend the various spheres of the gendered reality, and how women (and men) shape their subjectivity within institutions and social spaces, while preserving a critical perspective towards gendered social arrangements.

Consequently, we aim to explore and analyze the social forces and arrangements which shape a wide range of feminist subjectivities and agency. These questions will be discussed through an examination of the array of powers that shape and dictate the frameworks of choice itself. We also examine feminist critique as part of the contemporary crisis of critical theory; its changing forms, and its ability to serve as a basis for collective organization and consolidation of political knowledge and action.


Work format: Small research groups will work separately throughout the year and all will meet for joint workshops in the beginning, middle, and end of the year. The year-end workshop will be open to all researchers and to the general public.


The project will address the following questions:

  • What are the new and old meanings of feminist political awareness in various spheres of Israeli society?
  • What is the meaning of criticism as a space that shapes feminist political subjectivity, and to what extent does it enable or limit the possibilities of cooperation and unity?
  • What new forms of criticism and theory can support alternative models of feminist subjectivity?
  • What new forms of political participation are available today for feminist discourse, and what feelings, practices, and self-images emerge in these spaces? In what ways have the self and subjectivity themselves become a feminist political sphere, and what characterizes this sphere?
  • What is the role of these forms of political subjectivity in relation to other fields of critical discourse?
  • What images of the past and of the future does feminist criticism create and make possible? How do the past and the future function as resources for social change?
  • What is the range of political affects that are shaped by feminist theoretical and political discourse in its various contexts?

The research groups participating in the project in 2018 are:

Feminist Politics beyond Identity Politics

  1. Prof. Daphna Joel, Tel Aviv University
  2. Dr. Miri Rozmarin, Gender Studies Program, Bar-Ilan University
  3. Dr. Tanya Zion Waldoks, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Bar-Ilan University
  4. Dr. Ronit Irshai, Gender Studies Program, Bar-Ilan University

Haredi women leaving violent marriages: Religious Subjectivity, Feminism and Community

  1. Tehila Gado, MA in criminology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  2. Dr. Michal Kravel-Tovi, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University
  3. Esti Vega, doctoral candidate, Gender Studies Program, Bar-Ilan University
  4. Pnina Pfeuffer, MA in Organizational Behavior, Running for city council in Jerusalem as part of the "Yerusalmim" (Jerusalemites) Movement
  5. Rachel Bass, MA, authorized psychotherapist, specializes in sexual violence

A feminist discussion of Non-traditional familial and couple structures

  1. Leehee Rothschild, doctoral candidate, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  2. Gaia Steinberg, MA candidate, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  3. Leetal Weinbaum, MA candidate, NCJW Women and Gender Studies Program, Tel Aviv University
  4. Dr. Gilly Hartal, Gender Studies Program, Bar-Ilan University

"Making Ourselves at Home": Congregating as an Act of Feminist Political Subjectivity in the Neoliberal Academia

  1. Dr. Tal Nitsan, postdoctoral fellow, Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  2. Dr. Malka Greenberg-Raanan, postdoctoral fellow, Center for the Study of Multiculturalism and Diversity, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  3. Dr. Inbal Wilamowski, teaching fellow, The Lafer Center for Women and Gender Studies and the Institute of Criminology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  4. Dr. Sarai Aharoni, lecturer, Gender Studies Program, Ben Gurion University

Gender and Settler-Colonialism: Power, class, and nationality

  1. Dr. Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  2. Dr. Manar Hasan, Gender Studies Program, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  3. Dr. Yael Ben David, Truman Institute, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya