Rebecca L. Stein

Rebecca L. Stein

Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology

External address: 
205 Friedl Building, 1316 Campus Drive Duke Box 900, Durham, NC 27710
Internal office address: 
Box 90091, Durham, NC 27708-0091
(919) 684-4663

My research studies linkages between cultural and political processes in Israel in relation to its military occupation and the history of Palestinian dispossession. I am the author of (with Adi Kuntsman) Digital Militarism: Israel's Occupation in the Social Media Age (Stanford University Press, 2015), which studies the interplay between new media and military occupation in the Israel/Palestine context, Itineraries in Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Political Lives of Tourism (Duke University Press, 2008) which considers the relationship between tourism, mobility politics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the co-editor of Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture (Duke University Press, 2005) with Ted Swedenburg and The Struggle for Sovereignty: Palestine and Israel, 1993-2005 with Joel Beinin (Stanford University Press, 2006). 

I am currently continuing work on a multi-book project about the ways that new communication technologies are meditating the everyday Israeli relationship to its military occupation -- including the ways such technologies are changing practices and logics of military 'counterinsurgency', altering the everyday terms of soldiering, changing the Israeli civilian relationship to Palestinians under occupation, and remaking the terrain of human rights work and anti-occupation activism within Israel. My first book on this topic --Digital Militarism: Israel's Occupation in the Social Media Age (with Adi Kuntsman) -- studied the place of social media within this equation. My current book project --Smartphone Dreams: State Violence, Cameras and the Digital Promise--- studies the role of testimonial cameras in the context of the Israeli military occupation.  Over the last two decades, all of the actors in this political theater, on both sides of the conflict, have increasingly integrated photographic technologies, and networked image-making, into their political toolbox: Palestinian and Israeli human rights workers and activists, Palestinian civilians living under occupation, the Israeli military, and the Jewish settler population.  All of these constituencies believed that the technological innovations of the digital age would deliver their images – and therein, their political message -- with greater fidelity. And all would be let down.  In an effort to counter the techno-utopianism of much new media scholarship, Smartphone Dreams focuses on episodes of breakdown and glitch where cameras were concerned, on cases where new photographic technologies, practices, and circulations failed to deliver on their supposed promise, across these ideological divides. 

This multi-book project has been supported by grants from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Palestinian American Research Council, and the Trent Foundation. Portions of this work have published in Current AnthropologyCritical Inquiry, Anthropological Quarterly, Middle East Report, and the London Review of Books. My work on Israeli cultural politics has appeared in such journals as Public Culture, Social TextThe International Journal of Middle East Studies,Theory and Event, Journal of Palestine Studies, GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies and Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. 


  • Ph.D., Stanford University 1999
  • M.A., Stanford University 1995
  • B.A., Amherst College 1991

Stein, R. L. “Political Tourism in Palestine.” Stanford Humanities Review, 1995.

Stein, R. L. “The Limits of the Revisionist Imagination.” Middle East Report (New York, N.Y.). Wiley-Blackwell, 1995.

Stein, R. L. “Zealots for Zion, Robert Friedman.” Middle East Report (New York, N.Y.). Wiley-Blackwell, 1991.


Kuntsman, Adi, and Rebecca L. Stein. “Digital Suspicion, Politics, and the Middle East.” Critical Inquiry (Online Feature on Arab Spring), 2011. Open Access Copy

Stein, R. L. “EXPLOSIVE: Scenes from Israel's Gay Occupation.” Glq: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 16, no. 4 (January 1, 2010): 517–36. Full Text Open Access Copy

Stein, Rebecca L. “TRAVELLING ZION.” Interventions 11, no. 3 (November 2009): 334–51. Full Text Open Access Copy

Stein, R. L. “Souvenirs of conquest: Israeli occupations as tourist events.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 40, no. 4 (October 31, 2008): 647–69. Full Text Open Access Copy

Stein, R. L. “Daniel Lefkowitz, WORDS AND STONES.” American Anthropologist, 2006.

Stein, R. L., and T. Swedenburg. “Popular culture, relational history, and the question of power in Palestine and Israel.” Journal of Palestine Studies 33, no. 4 (January 1, 2004): 5–20. Full Text

Stein, Rebecca L. “Of Cafes and Colonialism: Israeli Leisure and The Question of Palestine (Again).” Theory and Event 6, no. 3 (2003).


Stein, R. L. “Review of Shared histories: A Palestinian-Israeli dialogue by Paul Scham, et al.” International Journal of Middle East Studies, February 2008.

Stein, R. L. “Review of Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices by Ella Shohat.” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 2007.

Stein, Rebecca L. “Israeli backpackers: From tourism to rite of passage.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, November 1, 2006. Full Text

Stein, R. L. “Tourism, the Nation-State, and Settler-Modernity in Israel.” Anthropology News, 2004.

Stein, R. L. “Israel und die kulturelle Politik des Tourisms.” Sommer Akademie News, August 2003.

Stein, Rebecca L. “Pappe Faces down Prosecution.” Middle East Report. JSTOR, 2002. Full Text

Stein, R. L. “Violence and its Rhetoric: Sharon’s Visit to Washington.” Middle East Report, 2001.