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Durham University

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Mr Yotam Gidron

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Member of the Department of History

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The Nuer Messianic Jewish movement: authority and authenticity in Ethiopia’s western frontierlands

My PhD research is a study of the changing role of faith in public life in Ethiopia’s western frontierlands. It presents an ethnographic history of the evolution of Messianic Judaism, a form of Evangelical Christian Zionism, among Nuer communities living in a region called Gambella, on the border with South Sudan, and explores how the truth claims, institutions, aesthetics, sensibilities and practices associated with this faith have changed the ways in which local communities shape their collective existence and understand their place in the world. 

I joined the Department of History in October 2017, and my research is funded by a Durham Doctoral Studentship award. Before joining Durham University, I obtained a master’s degree in African Studies from the University of Oxford and a bachelor’s degree in Law from Tel Aviv University. I also worked with several refugee rights organisations and think tanks. Some of my other research interests are refugee law and migration, Israel-Africa relations, as well as the intersection between politics and violent conflicts and photography, media and popular culture.

My book Israel in Africa (2020) was published in Zed Books’ African Arguments series. Academic papers I wrote were published in Journal of Eastern African Studies and International Journal of Transitional Justice. As part of my work with NGOs, I also published several policy papers and reports. Other texts that I wrote have appeared in various non-academic platforms, including OkayAfrica, Refugees Deeply, African Arguments, Forced Migration Review, and Africa is a Country. Interviews and references to my work also appeared in the BBC’s Focus on Africa, World Politics Review, Voice of America, The New Arab, and other platforms. Links to some of my publications can be found here.

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