Thursday April 1, 1PM CT

Rhona Seidelman, 2020-21 Forum Grantee, Schusterman Chair of Israel Studies and a professor of History at the University of Oklahoma.

with Shir Alon, Professor of Comparative Literature in the department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota.

‘Claiming My Egypt’ is inspired by, and continues in the tradition of, scholarly, autobiographical reflections of women intellectuals of Middle Eastern descent.  In this study Professor Seidelman examines the fractured Egyptian identity that she inherited through her mother, Racheline, who was born in Alexandria in 1946 to a tight-knit Egyptian-Jewish family.  Racheline fled with her parents and siblings in 1955.  The questions this project asks are:  What of Egypt is left in the children of Egypt’s Jewish diaspora?  What claim, if any, do we have to the country that has shaped who we are?  Are we at all Egyptian?  ‘Claiming My Egypt’ argues that the history and wounds of Egypt did not stop with our parents; it continued on to the next generation, contributing layers of identity that are at once rich, transnational and displaced. 

Rhona Seidelman is the Schusterman Chair of Israel Studies and a professor of History at the University of Oklahoma.  Her research is on the history of immigration, medicine/public health and Israel.  Professor Seidelman’s book Under Quarantine:  Immigrants and Disease at Israel’s Gate was published with Rutgers University Press in 2020.  It tells the story of Shaar Ha’aliya, Israel’s “Ellis Island”, focusing on the conflicts surrounding the camp’s medical quarantine of Israel’s new immigrants.  Dr. Seidelman’s articles on health and immigration have been published in Jewish Social Studies, The American Journal of Public Health and Ha’aretz.  

Currently Professor Seidelman is working on two new projects: 

 ‘Claiming My Egypt’ explores questions of identity among the children of Egypt’s Jewish diaspora.  

‘Zionism, Tuberculosis and the Making of the 20th Century’ is a book on patients’ experiences with tuberculosis in Palestine/Israel from 1882 until today.

Shir Alon is an assistant professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota, specializing in Modern Arabic and Hebrew Literatures; Literary Theory; Postcolonial Theory and Criticism; and Gender and Feminism.  Her articles have appeared in Jewish Social Studies, Arab Studies JournalComparative Literature and boundary 2.  She is currently completing her first book manuscript titled STATIC: Middle Eastern Literature and the Problem of the Present.

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