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Re’ee Hagay

2nd Year PhD Student

Re’ee Hagay

Educational Background

  • MA, 2016, Tel Aviv University, Sociocultural Anthropology
  • BA, 2013, Tel Aviv University, Sociology and Anthropology


During the past several years, I conducted two research projects, in which connections between sound, memory and displacement among Mizrahi Jews in Israel/Palestine were explored. The first project takes up the continuous engagement of Iraqi-Jewish cantors with Arab Music. The cantors' memories reveal modern as well as ancient layers of the pre-national past, when multi-directional routs of immigration between Baghdad, Jerusalem and Cairo were taken. The cantors' descriptions of their own experience in Arab music further overlap with theological discourses of diaspora and exile; in particular, through returning to the sound of wails produced by the Jewish exiles upon their arrival to the rivers of Babylon, as depicted in psalm 137.

Sounds of mourning continued to preoccupy me in a more recent project dedicated to the biography of the late Yemenite-Jewish singer-songwriter, Ahuva Ozeri. As a child, Ozeri was sent by her mother to serve as a traditional mourner in homes of deceased people in Tel Aviv's Yemenite quarter. The mourning continued playing a central role in Ozeri's life, and kept shaping her musical practice in its changing forms and contexts. A song addressing the Yemenite babies who were kidnapped by the medical establishment in nascent Israel is an example of such a musical creation. Created in South Tel Aviv, Ozeri's music derived from a range of traditions originating in other areas of the global south. These included blues and gospel from the black south of the United States, South Asian films music, and the Egyptian song of the mid 20th century.

Similarly to the Iraqi-Jewish cantors' accounts, Ozeri's biography evoked my curiosity in the un-teritorialized musical aesthetics that are still under formation within the State of Israel. These sounds reconnect us to pasts – and perhaps point to alternative futures – of Jewish cultural identity and political organization beyond national borders.


  • Near Eastern Studies


  • Modern Middle Eastern Jewish culture
  • Diaspora and nationalism
  • Politics of memory and forgetting
  • Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies
  • Ethnographic research and writing