PhD Candidate


Dissertation Title: Settling the Good: Ethical Imagination, Temporal Expectation, and National-Religious Activism in Israel's Social Periphery

Andrew Atwell is a PhD student in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. His dissertation examines how Israeli Jewish ethical imagination is informed and inflected by a pervasive experience of temporal stress underlying Israeli Jewish life: Israel is under existential threat, and yet Israel is forever. It does so through an exploration of the histories, practices, and dispositions of a growing national-religious social movement in Israel’s “mixed” cities: garinim toraniim (“Torah seed” groups). These groups pursue a mission of social change in cities they conceive as neglected through investment, participation, and promotion of Jewish values, variously conceived. In their efforts, notions of existential threat, settlement on the Land, indefinite perdurance, the future of Zionism, and the ethical urgencies of the present coalesce into a project at once deeply particular and wholly implicated in the aspirations, problems, debates, and sensibilities of wider Israeli Jewish society.

Andrew’s research has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation (Dissertation Fieldwork Grant); the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights (PhD Research Grant); a Fuerstenberg Fellowship in Jewish Studies; the Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies (Research and Travel Grant); the University of Chicago Anthropology Department (Leiffer Fellowship); and the US Department of Education (Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships). Andrew previously earned an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School with a concentration in the Anthropology of Religion, and an MA in Physics from the University of Virginia. He holds an MA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago and is an alumnus of Eckerd College where he earned a BS in Physics with a minor in Mathematics.