Cornell University

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Science & Technology Studies Seminar - Cara Rock-Singer, Cornell University

Monday, February 26, 2018 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm

423 Morrill Hall

God's Immodest Witnesses and Ritual Technologies for Creating Jewish Life

Donna Haraway’s concept of a “modest witness,” and her questions about the possibility of an objective observer, shares a strange not-only-linguistic parity with religious discourses of modesty that not only set norms of bodily comportment and affect, but bleed into questions about the propriety and trustworthiness of knowledge once it is in the hands and through the eyes of women. Based on ethnographic research in the United States and Israel with Jewish birth workers, textual experts, and ritual facilitators, this talk will explore how the scientific moral economies of sight and Jewish discourses of modesty coexist, and how women, as subjects and objects, handle the intransitivity of demands about seeing and not seeing their own bodies. By focusing on the way that selves are witnessed or eliminated from view, I explore a range of technologies in place for maintaining religious laws and ontologies in an age of biomedicine and of feminist claims to Jewish textual authority.


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Event Type

Lecture, Seminar


Science and Technology Studies


sts, cas, cashum, cascal



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Trina Garrison

Contact Phone



Cara Rock-Singer

Speaker Affiliation

Department of Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University

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