We are happy to share the news that Yifat Gutman, a 2006 Democracy & Diversity Institute, Krakow alumna and a New School graduate, was awarded the Dan David Prize Scholarship for her research project title: “The Production of History and Memory in Everyday Life: How Jewish and Palestinian Citizens of Israel Narrate and Commemorate the 1948 War Outside State and Academic Institutions.” The Dan David Prize laureates donate 10% of their prize money to young scholars in their respective fields. This year’s laureates in the field of History and Memory are Pierre Nora, Saul Friedlander, and Krzysztof Czyzewski, another long time friend of TCDS whose award we celebrated recently by holding a conversation with Krzysztof at The New School. You can watch the full video of the event on Public Seminar.
Yifat Gutman has a Ph.D. (2012) in Sociology from the New School for Social Research in New York and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Davis Institute for International Relations and the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research has focused on peace activism and the politics of commemoration in a transnational context, as well as on conflict resolution and political culture. She has published peer-reviewed articles in the journals Parallax, Memory Studies, and the International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, among others, and co-edited a special journal issue on memories of terrorism and political violence (BSTPA 2/2, May 2010), and the volume Memory and the Future: Transnational politics, ethics and society (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
Yifat’s dissertation research examined how globally-circulating expert ideas and models for reconciliation are implemented by NGOs. Based in Israel, Yifat studied how peace activists deployed post-conflict discourse and tools during conflict from the early 2000’s. As part of this research, Yifat developed the concept of “memory activism,” or the grassroots commemoration of a contested past to influence public debate, often in the service of democratic politics, human rights, and transitional justice. Memory activists use commemorative and cultural forms such as tours, testimonies, mapping, and exhibits, to give visibility to a contested past in their own society. In the Israeli case, Israeli and Palestinian citizens appropriated and redeployed hegemonic forms and practices – tours and testimonies – to disseminate contested Palestinian memories and alternative claims about the conflict’s past and future.
During her postdoctoral fellowship at Hebrew University of Jerusalem Yifat began to expand her research beyond the Israeli-Palestinian case study and in comparative perspective. With a research grant from the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University, Yifat initiated in 2012-2013 a study of the role of memory activism in reconciliation processes in comparative perspective (conflict vs. post-conflict cases). The project commenced with an examination of grass-roots commemoration in post-WWII, post-Soviet Central Europe, focusing on Poland and the former Sudetenland.
Please join us in congratulating Yifat on her award!