The ECPR, in association with our Standing Group on Gender and Politics, is delighted to announce that the 2017 Gender & Politics PhD Prize has been awarded to Hila Amit, SOAS, University of London, for her highly original dissertation A Queer Way Out: Israeli Emigration and Unheroic Resistance to Zionism.
This biennial prize was first awarded in 2013 but has this year been renamed to honour the pioneering feminist political scientist Joni Lovenduski.
Hila Amit (b. 1985, Tel-Aviv) is a freelance researcher, Hebrew teacher and author. She holds a PhD in Gender Studies from SOAS, University of London, and a Master’s in Gender Studies from the University of Tel-Aviv. Hila also has a BA in creative writing, and recently published her first short story collection, Moving On from Bliss (Tel-Aviv: Am Oved, 2016).
Prior to her academic career, Hila worked for Physicians for Human Rights in Israel/Palestine, where she also took part in several education programmes. In addition to her interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict and the effects of Zionist Ideology on Israel’s gender regime, Hila is committed to the critical approach offered by queer theories on questions of nation, gender and sexuality.
‘My dissertation explores the activities of (as well as the discourse used by) queer Israeli emigrants, before, during, and after departure. At the juncture of sexuality, politics and national belonging, my research investigates the connections between the Israeli collective and its outcasts, and between social exclusion and departure. I formulate a framework through which emigration is read as a political activity.
The thesis’ argument is that queer Israeli emigrants, in their decision to depart, undermine Zionist ideology, and change the obvious paths of resistance to Zionism. In stepping out of the territory of Israel, they avoid the Zionist demand to perform as strong, masculine Sabras. Likewise, left-wing resistance to the regime demands similar strength: to take part in violent demonstrations and risk physical injury or imprisonment.
Emigration is subversive in that it symbolises a refusal to answer Zionism in the currency of heroism and active resistance. I show how emigrants’ decision to leave stems from acknowledgement of their own vulnerability; recognition that they can no longer tolerate the hardship of life offered to them in Israel. The very act of announcing their vulnerability weakens the system, which demands strength of the citizens of Israel, whether obedience to the regime or not. In their passivity and unheroic behaviour, emigrants threaten to undermine the entire Zionist project.
By announcing their vulnerability, by choosing not to be heroes – not to be there – queer emigrants are, in fact, resisting the Zionist project in its essence.’
Hila will be presented with her Prize at this year's ECPG Conference, which takes place at the University of Lausanne from 8 – 10 June