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Rachel Smith

Current/Former HGSA Member
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Contact Information

Email    rachel.smith@ucla.edu
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Rachel Smith is a PhD candidate whose dissertation explores the history and politics of Jewish ethnography in the Ottoman world. Against the backdrop of expanding empires, the rise of anthropology, and shifting notions of race, her research examines how Jewish writers and thinkers produced, circulated, and mobilized ethnographic and racialized knowledge in the service of varied reformist ideologies. 

Field of Study



modern Jewish history, history of ethnography, Sephardic studies, Ottoman Empire

Grants and Awards

Major Tuition and Research Funding

UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, Foreign Language and Area Studies Research Fellow (2021-2022)

UCLA Collegium of University Teaching Fellow (2021-2022)

American Academy for Jewish Research Grant (2021)

Mellon Fellow for the Study of Minorities in the Middle East (2020-2021)

UCLA Leve Center for Jewish Studies, Skirball Fellow in Modern Jewish Culture (2020-2021)

Institute for Turkish Studies Summer Grant (2020)

UCLA Department of History Fellowships (2017-2022)

Wexner Graduate Fellow (2017-2020)

Conference Presentations

Select Conference Presentations

“Mapping the Racial Terrain of Ottoman Sephardic Travelogues,” Columbia University’s Global Center in Istanbul, 2022.

“Superstition and the Haunting of Sephardic Modernity,” Mellon Conference on Minorities in the Middle East at UCLA, 2022.

“Journey to Abyssinia: The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Politics of Ethnography”, Nineteenth Century Studies Association Conference, 2021.

“Representing the Kuryozo: Sephardic Positionality and Questions of Race”, Association for Jewish Studies Conference, 2020.

“Sephardic Hilula Narratives in Nineteenth-Century Palestine.” Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA). November 2020. 


Sarah Abrevaya Stein, David Myers, Aomar Boum, James Gelvin


MA in Jewish History and Education, Jewish Theological Seminary

BA in Anthropology and Linguistics, New York University