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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

“Journey to Abyssinia: The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Politics of Ethnography.” Annual Meeting of the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association (NCSA). March 2021.

“Representing the Kuryozo: Sephardic Positionality and Questions of Race.” Annual Meeting of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS). December 2020.

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


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


MA in Jewish History and Education, Jewish Theological Seminary

BA in Anthropology and Linguistics, New York University