Rebecca L. Stein
Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology
My research studies linkages between cultural and political processes in Israel in relation to its military occupation and the history of Palestinian dispossession. I am the author of (with Adi Kuntsman) Digital Militarism: Israel's Occupation in the Social Media Age (Stanford University Press, 2015), which studies the interplay between new media and military occupation in the Israel/Palestine context, Itineraries in Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Political Lives of Tourism (Duke University Press, 2008) which considers the relationship between tourism, mobility politics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the co-editor of Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture (Duke University Press, 2005) with Ted Swedenburg and The Struggle for Sovereignty: Palestine and Israel, 1993-2005 with Joel Beinin (Stanford University Press, 2006).
I am currently continuing work on a multi-book project about the ways that new communication technologies are meditating the everyday Israeli relationship to its military occupation -- including the ways such technologies are changing practices and logics of military 'counterinsurgency', altering the everyday terms of soldiering, changing the Israeli civilian relationship to Palestinians under occupation, and remaking the terrain of human rights work and anti-occupation activism within Israel. My first book on this topic --Digital Militarism: Israel's Occupation in the Social Media Age (with Adi Kuntsman) -- studied the place of social media within this equation. My current book project --Smartphone Dreams: State Violence, Cameras and the Digital Promise--- studies the role of testimonial cameras in the context of the Israeli military occupation. Over the last two decades, all of the actors in this political theater, on both sides of the conflict, have increasingly integrated photographic technologies, and networked image-making, into their political toolbox: Palestinian and Israeli human rights workers and activists, Palestinian civilians living under occupation, the Israeli military, and the Jewish settler population. All of these constituencies believed that the technological innovations of the digital age would deliver their images – and therein, their political message -- with greater fidelity. And all would be let down. In an effort to counter the techno-utopianism of much new media scholarship, Smartphone Dreams focuses on episodes of breakdown and glitch where cameras were concerned, on cases where new photographic technologies, practices, and circulations failed to deliver on their supposed promise, across these ideological divides.
This multi-book project has been supported by grants from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Palestinian American Research Council, and the Trent Foundation. Portions of this work have published in Current Anthropology, Critical Inquiry, Anthropological Quarterly, Middle East Report, and the London Review of Books. My work on Israeli cultural politics has appeared in such journals as Public Culture, Social Text, The International Journal of Middle East Studies,Theory and Event, Journal of Palestine Studies, GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies and Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies.