Professor Emerita, Humanities
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Dr. Mira Z. Amiras founded the Middle East Studies Program in 1987 and served as its Coordinator for over twenty years. She is Professor Emerita of Comparative Religious Studies in the Humanities Department at SJSU. The courses she has taught include Magic, Science and Religion; Middle Eastern Traditions; Islam, Politics and the West; Jews, Zionism and the State; Jewish Mysticism, Magic and Folklore; Western Religions; Body, Mind and Spirit (companion course to MSR); Religion and Anthropology; Introduction to the Study of Religion; and Senior Seminar in Comparative Religious Studies. For these or other offerings contact Dr. Amiras directly.
Dr. Mira Z. Amiras received her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1982. Her geographical area of expertise is the Middle East and North Africa, and while she has lived and traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, her research has focused for the most part on North Africa. Her primary interest has been on the relationship between the individual and the State when the State imposes constraints upon land and identity. Her book, Development and Disenchantment in Rural Tunisia: The Bourguiba Years, was published by Westview Press in 1992.
She is currently working on an animated film based upon early Jewish medieval texts, including Zohar and the Sefer Yetzirah. Her research includes work on Amazigh (Berber) identity and language revitalization in North Africa and in the Amazigh diaspora. In addition to the above, Dr. Amiras has conducted research on gender, sexuality and consciousness studies, as well as on Jewish-Muslim relations, kabbalistic cosmology, and imbedded symbols within Hebrew, Arabic, and Tamazight (tifinagh) script.
Dr. Amiras has served as president of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, and on the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association. She is also a member of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion, Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies, and the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association.
More important than all of the above, is that she has two (grown) kids, whom she loves with all her heart, and one exquisite long-haired German Shepherd, as well as her daughter's black cat who does cat to perfection. All of them, as well as her partner, provide her with endless love, labor, and a glorious appreciation of the wild.