Israel Studies Seminar: TT21 Wk 1: “Jews, open your eyes, wait, why hurry?” Public health and the cultural politics of protection in Jerusalem

Convener: Yaacov Yadgar

Speaker: Ben Kasstan (University of Bristol)


Drawing on an ethnographic study into child care and health in Jerusalem, this paper explores the cultural politics of protection that surrounds responses to public health intervention during outbreaks of infectious disease. This paper situates the voices of Orthodox and Haredi Jewish parents alongside activism and print cultures (pashkevilim) that circulated anonymous messaging in Jerusalem neighbourhoods – casting public health intervention against historical narratives of danger and deception. Pandemic responses interact with deeply-rooted tensions at the intersection of religion, health and state, as viral outbreaks play into long-running struggles over military conscription and the character of the ‘Jewish state.’  


Speaker Bio:

Ben Kasstan is a medical anthropologist at the University of Bristol and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research sits at the intersection of health, religion and state, and his recent work explores vaccine decision-making among religiously Orthodox parents in Britain and Jerusalem.


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Meeting ID: 928 9816 3373

Passcode: 538897