Bryan Roby is an Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies with the Frankel Institute. His focus is on Middle Eastern and North African Jewish history in the modern era. After earning his PhD at the University of Manchester (UK), he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at New York University and was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Michigan's Frankel Institute for Judaic Studies. His research interests include the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in Israel/Palestine, 19th and 20th century North African history, and the legacy of French colonialism on Arab and Jewish identity. His first book, The Mizrahi Era of Rebellion: Israel’s Forgotten Civil Rights Struggle 1948-1966 (Syracuse University Press, 2015), provides an extensive history of social justice protests by Middle Eastern Jews in Israel.
Roby's second book project explores the shifting boundaries of racial constructs in Israel/Palestine as well as African-American intellectual contributions to Israeli sociology and theories on race and ethnicity. In examining American, Israeli, and French colonial archives, the book demonstrates how and why Middle Eastern Jews became associated with Blackness throughout the 20th century and what this demonstrates about the symbolic power and composition of Blackness on a global scale. How do we understand Blackness outside of the Middle Passage paradigm? What do Israeli Jewish groups like the Israeli Black Panthers and the Black Revolutionary Forces tell us about the international scale of Black activism? Can we locate Blackness on the (Jewish) body, or are there other signifiers that help us trace Black thought and identity in multiple spaces? In addition to this, Roby is examining the intellectual production of North African Jewish literary figures and political activists associated with the haskalah/nahda in the early- to mid-20th century.