Erica Weiss



I am a cultural anthropologist researching the ways people navigate the ethical dilemmas they encounter during their everyday lives and their encounters with the state.  I am interested in liberalism and its discontents.

I am originally from New Paltz, New York.  I did my Ph.D. in Anthropology at Princeton University (2011). I joined the faculty of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University in the fall of 2013.  I do my research in Israel and Palestine, using ethnographic methods.

I live in Caesarea with my husband, Michael, our daughter, Jordan, and our dog, Otis.





Ethics – My research involves a non-normative examination of the way people understand their ethical obligations.  In my previous research, I looked at the way Israeli soldiers struggle to reconcile the responsibility they feel towards Palestinians and the responsibility they feel towards other Israelis.  In my new research I am asking how people understand coexistence through the lens of faith.  I ask how religious study and prayer inform people about their ethical responsibilities to their neighbor, and how they come to understand who falls under this category of care.

Liberalism, Late Liberalism, and Neoliberalism – I am interested how political ideology effects people’s understanding of community and responsibilities to the state and to one another.    Israel has both liberal and non-liberal components both within the legal and political structure and within the Israeli population.  And like many countries, Israel has undergone recent neoliberal reforms which have likewise influenced people’s notions regarding mutual care, along with significant blowback against these changes.  This diversity means many ethical models coexist and compete in public and private.  I am very interested in tracing these influences in my work.

State –  The state is a concept, a system of bureaucratic organization, a fetish, a legal category, and many other things at the same time, making it difficult to pin down and examine.  But I join the scholars who try patiently to point at different facets of the state, knowing that a partial view is the best we can do.  Specifically, I am interested in the ways the state exerts hegemonic control and the moments of hegemonic success and failure.  In my previous research I found that even moments of political dissent such as conscientious objection were pregnant with hegemonic beliefs regarding the responsibilities of citizenship.  In my new research I am interested in examining the hegemony of secular and Realpolitik discourse in peace-building discourse.


I am an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University.