February 2017

Topic of the Week: GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

February 24, 2017

Professor Hikmet Kocamaner to Give Lunchtime Lecture

The Project on Gender, Culture, Religion, and the Law offers a series of informal lunchtime talks exploring the intersection of religion,  law and women's rights. Delivered by HBI Helen Gartner Hammer Scholars-in-Residence, Research Associates and invited guests, these inter-disciplinary presentations of work in progress will cover topics both historical and contemporary, focusing on Jewish and Islamic religious laws and practices. Professor Hikmet Kocamaner, HBI Scholar-in-Residence, will speak on Governing the Family Through Religion: Secularism, Religious Expertise, and the Politics of the Family in New Turkey

Since the ruling Muslim-conservative government came to power in 2002, Turkey has witnessed an explosion of political discourses, government policies, and faith-based initiatives aimed at  "strengthening the family" and protecting so-called "family values." Kocamaner's lecture will explore the family counseling services provided by a government-run faith-based initiative: Family Guidance and Religious Counseling Bureaus that operate under the Directorate of Religious Affairs. Based on a yearlong fieldwork in these Bureaus and participant observation in the training sessions of preachers, his paper explores how the Turkish government instrumentalizes religious authority in inculcating affective and ethical dispositions in families to promote not only Islamically appropriate but also state-sanctioned gender norms, sexual and reproductive behaviors, and forms of kinship care. 

Hikmet Kocamaner, Ph.D. is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in secularism, political Islam, mass media, gender, and the politics of the family in Turkey. Currently, he is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Boston University and a visiting postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. 


Topic of the Week: Meet the Scholars

February 14, 2017

HBI Welcomes Professor Hikmet Kocamaner

Hikmet Kocamaner is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in secularism, political Islam, mass media, gender, and the politics of the family in Turkey. Currently, he is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Boston University and a visiting postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis and a lecturer in the Anthropology department at Brandeis University. He received a dual Ph.D. in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Arizona. He received numerous grants and fellowships including a dissertation fieldwork grant by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, a dissertation proposal development grant by the Social Science Research Council, and a foreign language teaching fellowship by Fulbright IIE.

Dr. Kocamaner is currently working on his book manuscript, provisionally entitled Governing the Family through Religion in a Secular State: Islam, Gender, and the Politics of the Family in the New Turkey. Expanding on his dissertation research, the book examines the involvement of Islamic groups in the politics of the family and the recent proliferation of faith-based initiatives aimed at strengthening so-called "family values." It explores the implications of this unprecedented phenomenon for state-Islam relations and emerging forms of governance in Turkey, which is often considered the paradigmatic example of secularism in the Muslim world. His article, titled "Strengthening the Family through Television: Islamic Broadcasting, Secularism, and the Politics of Responsibility in Turkey," is forthcoming in Anthropological Quarterly. 


Topic of the Week: Meet the Scholars

February 3, 2017

HBI Welcomes Professor Gail Labovitz

Dr. Gail Labovitz is Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature at the American Jewish University, where she teaches rabbinic texts and Jewish law for the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. She is the author of Marriage and Metaphor: Constructions of Gender in Rabbinic Literature (Lexington Books, 2009), a forthcoming volume of the Feminist Commentary on the Babylonian Talmud (Moed Qatan), and numerous articles on topics including rabbinic literature and culture, Jewish law, and gender and sexuality. Prior to joining the faculty of ZSRS, she also served as a senior research analyst for the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project at Brandeis University and as the coordinator of the Jewish Feminist Research Group, a project of the Jewish Women’s Studies Program at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and was a 2002 recipient of a research award from the Hadassah International Research Institute on Jewish Women at Brandeis (now the HBI).  She is a past chair of the Women’s Caucus of the Association for Jewish Studies, and is the founder and coordinator of the Dr. Elka Klein Memorial Travel Grant.  In addition, she is an ordained Conservative rabbi, and currently serves on the Committee for Jewish Law and Standards, the body that debates and sets halahkic rulings and standards for the movement.

Dr. Labovitz is participating in HBI’s spring seminar, “Female Interpreters of Religious Law: Women’s Leadership as Clergy, Educators, Advisors and Judges.” While serving as Scholar-in-Residence at HBI, Labovitz is working on a project relating to the legal underpinnings of Jewish marriage in current Jewish law, and options for setting marriage and divorce on a more egalitarian footing.