Ruth Carmi




Gender and Family, Inequality, Qualitative Methods, Race and Ethnicity


Ruth Carmi is a PhD candidate whose previous professional work as a human-rights lawyer informs her study of the connection between Israeli society's racial formation, gender inequalities, and the prolonged Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Her research investigates the oppressive forces that shape the state's discrimination against women of color in a local context and the ways in which these forces influence women of color within and across ethno-racial groups. Informed by Black feminist thought, intersectionality, and critical race theories, her research examines the effect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the systematic marginalization of Palestinian and Jewish women of color in Israel.

Her dissertation, entitled “Intersectionality in the Israeli Welfare State,” examines the “bureaucratic logic” of the Israeli welfare state by qualitatively analyzing Israeli Supreme Court Cases that focus on Israeli women of color and questions of motherhood within the Israeli welfare state. A multi-method qualitative approach to these cases, using discourse and content analysis, social-historical analysis (legal archeology), media analysis, and in-depth interviews with the lawyers involved, allows her to derive theoretical conclusions from a deep analysis of a small number of cases and uncover the connection between judicial decisions, discursive reasoning, and institutional procedures. Her findings show that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the militarization of Israeli society center Israeli social understandings around the binary of “Jews versus Arabs,” denying systematic racism against Jews of color and particularly mothers of color. This discourse obscures how the Israeli welfare state constructs mothers of color as “bad mothers,” which ensures their ongoing dependency on welfare aid and justifies state intervention in their lives. 

Before joining the University of Notre Dame, Ruth worked as a human rights lawyer in Israel, where she litigated in the High Court of Justice and represented in Israeli Parliament committees addressing issues of resource allocation to the Arab minority in Israel and the Arab minority's right to government services and support. She also battled incitement to racism and violence.


Title: "Intersectionality in the Israeli Welfare State"
Committee: Atalia Omer- Co-chair, Ann Mische- Co-chair, Calvin Zimmermann, Abigail Ocobock, Neta Ziv (Tel Aviv University, The Buchmann Faculty of Law)