Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Gender and Women's Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Cristina Alcalde


This dissertation focuses on experiences of belonging among lesbian and queer feminist activist women in the women-only organization Isha L’Isha. As the oldest feminist organization in Israel, Isha L’Isha was established in 1983 and has roots dating back to the 1970s. I spent one year (2017-2018) engaging in participant observation and conducting 40 interviews with current and former members of the group. Using Isha L’Isha as a lens through which to examine the multilayered ways in which gendered activism shapes experiences of belonging, this project centers the experiences and narratives of four women: Talma, Sophie, Amira, and Maya.

This work centers belonging around the idea of safety at three levels: physical safety, emotional safety, and philosophical safety. I view safety through an experiential lens wherein physical and mental landscapes are dependent on each other. I argue that much of the belonging the women at Isha experience is rooted in physical safety from gendered violence. In each of the six chapters, I explore how women of differing class, race, ethnicity, and age build affective worlds through physical, emotional, and philosophical safety.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Competitive Graduate Fellowship, University of Kentucky; 2018

Jewish Studies Research Award, University of Kentucky; 2017

Bonnie Jean Cox Graduate Research Award, University of Kentucky; 2016; 2017