Landscapes of the Middle East
History of Technology and the Body
History of Medicine and Public Health
I am interested in the history and anthropology of health and the body, history of technology, environmental history, and their intersections with colonialism and nationalism. I am also interested in the bidirectional relations between humans and animals in the production of biomedical knowledge.
My dissertation deals with the use of science and technology as means for erecting a mystical past in Palestine/Israel in the twentieth century. This project, titled Milk & Honey: Technologies of Plenty in the Making of a Holy Land, 1890-1965, examines how settlers who attributed special qualities to their land, used science and technology to construct a religious past, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” I ask (1) how different groups of settlers used science and technology to reveal the sacred qualities they attributed to the land of Palestine/Israel, and (2) how these technological efforts to produce plenty shaped the landscape and bodyscapes. I organize my research around (female) animals and humans that became key actors in the making of a Holy Land: bees, cows, sheep, goats, and women, and analyze the technologies used to produce modern plenty across three different political regimes.
By focusing on the production of plenty in 20th century Palestine/Israel, I demonstrate how modern technological projects were embedded in a religious idea of the past, and became a tool for materializing it. With this focus, my project highlights the intimate relations between technology and religious sentiments, and how central these relations were to cultural, environmental, economic, and political changes in the area. I show, furthermore, how certain beliefs were fundamental to scientific thinking, and how bodies were always recalcitrant mediators.