Bureaucratic gifts: Religious conversion, change, and exchange in Israel

Michal Kravel-Tovi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Viewing religious conversion through the lens of exchange rather than change calls attention to the web of interactions, practices, and discourses that constitute conversion as a relational domain. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork that straddles the institutionalized interface of state-run Jewish conversion in Israel, I show how the conversion process constitutes a reciprocal transaction by which each party to the exchange-the state and its subjects-provides the other with national recognition while also receiving and thus validating its own national identity. I trace the historical and political circumstances that have entangled the Jewish state and a significant cohort of Jewish converts within this reciprocal relationship. In doing so, I identify the biopolitical, moral, and bureaucratic frameworks that bear on this institutional transaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-727
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Bureaucratic gifts: Religious conversion, change, and exchange in Israel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this