Accepted paper:

Vernacular conceptions of human rights in Israeli society: The case of Haredi people with disabilities

Authors:

Shifra Gottlieb (Jerusalem College of Technology)
Zvika Orr (Jerusalem College of Technology)

Paper short abstract:

This research sheds light on local vernacularization of human rights of people with disabilities in Haredi communities in Israel. It analyzes how the human rights conceptualized and interpreted, and how knowledge about these rights is socially constructed, diffused and translated.

Paper long abstract:

Transnational human rights norms are translated in complex ways when they are introduced to local communities. This research aims to cast light on the local 'vernacularization', or adaptation, reinterpretation and appropriation of human rights in Israeli society. The study focuses on the human rights of people with disabilities in Haredi communities in Israel as a case study. Based on qualitative ethnographic methods, the study analyzes how the human rights of individuals with disabilities are conceptualized and interpreted in different Haredi communities and by different stakeholders. It explains how knowledge about different types of rights is socially constructed, diffused and translated. It emphasizes the role of activists and community organizations in this process as intermediaries between the global and the local arenas, and examines the activists' dilemmas and challenges.

The findings point to a complex hybridization of transnational and local norms and conceptions, and illuminate the role played by many factors, including: (1) Halakhic questions surrounding people with disabilities, such as the question of marriage; (2) the question of whether Judaism emphasizes duties and obligations as opposed to rights; (3) the stigma towards people with disabilities in Haredi society, which is affected by matchmaking as well as social boundary work; (4) invisible disabilities as "open secrets" that people actively avoid discussing; (5) the prevalence of charitable activities and "acts of mercy" on behalf of people with disabilities; (6) Haredi society's valuing of social continuity and conservatism rather than change, and its consequent resistance to addressing key human rights issues.

panel P122
Human rights and political subjectivities in motion: migration, hyper-nationalism, and countervailing strategies