Joyce Dalsheim is a Cultural Anthropologist and Professor in the Department of Global Studies. She earned her doctorate at The New School for Social Research in New York. Her work interrogates some of the social and political categories through which everyday life is navigated. Employing ethnographic fieldwork, her research has focused primarily on what it means to be Jewish in the context of Israel. Considering Jewishness in its broadest sense, she has explored the relationships between multiple Israeli Jewish communities in their struggles with each other and with their Palestinian neighbors. Employing critical and postcolonial theory, she has used the case of Israel to speak to broader issues of identity categories and conflict, temporality, historical narratives, religion and the secular, nationalism, citizenship, and sovereignty.
Israel/Palestine is particularly useful in challenging and renovating particular aspects of critical theory. Dalsheim’s work aims at seeing things otherwise by making unexpected comparisons and contrasts—the hallmark of anthropological analysis.
Much anthropology has been concerned with giving voice to the subaltern, minorities, and oppressed peoples. Dalsheim expands on these comparative projects by taking on what Laura Nader called the challenge of “studying up.” Her work looks at hegemonic groups, exploring the analytical usefulness of ideas such as hegemonic and subaltern.
These issues are explored in numerous journal articles, book chapters, and in Dalsheim’s first three books: Unsettling Gaza: Secular Liberalism, Radical Religion, and the Israeli Settlement Project (Oxford 2011), and Producing Spoilers: Peacemaking and Production of Enmity in a Secular Age (Oxford 2014), and Israel Has a Jewish Problem: Self-Determination as Self-Elimination (Oxford 2019).
Her work has now expanded to a project that reconsiders the historical “Jewish Question,” including a focus on the contemporary rise of antisemitism, racism, and fascism in Western democracies. While Dalsheim’s research touches on contentious topics, its strength comes from emphasizing complexities that never fit neatly into partisan divisions.
Dalsheim came to Charlotte following a Rockefeller Fellowship at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and a Lady Davis Fellowship at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She previously taught at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and Wake Forest University. At UNC-Charlotte, Dalsheim regularly offers courses on Global Racisms, Israel/Palestine and the role of Narratives in Conflict. She also works to de-colonize the curriculum through a project called Reading is Research.