Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationToronto, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9863
Approve DateApril 29, 2019
Project TitleMayne, Hannah (Toronto, U. of) "Female piety and sacred space in Israel/Palestine: Jewish prayer at the Western Wall"
HANNAH MAYNE, then a graduate student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, was awarded a grant in April 2019 “Female Piety and Sacred Space in Israel/Palestine: Jewish Prayer at the Western Wall,” supervised by Dr. Michael Lambek. The project involves an investigation of the ongoing struggles at the Western Wall in Jerusalem between feminist, orthodox, and ultra-orthodox Jewish worshippers. In considering this conflict, and documenting changing trends in women’s ritual practice, the study aims to offer an account of debates about female subjectivity and power within a patriarchal religious tradition and within a contested landscape. Using ethnographic fieldwork at the Western Wall and in various denominational settings, the research examines how women pray before God and human others; how they, and those to whom they give authority, re-invigorate or invent certain norms and practices, and prohibit others; and, how liturgical utterances at the Western Wall, and the arguments in which they take part, rely upon and elevate a notion of Jewish unity that effaces Palestinian presence and history. By focusing on prayer practices as both devotional rites and means of protest, this study contributes to current theories in the anthropology of prayer. It also considers the possibilities and limits of innovation in worship within anthropological scholarship on gender and ritual. Finally, the findings are situated within larger discussion on biblical spatiality and the politics of sacred sites in Israel/Palestine.