Postdoctoral Fellow, IAS Princeton
Yonatan Binyam was born in Ethiopia and immigrated to the United States at the age of ten. As a consequence, he grew up navigating the liminal space between being an American and an Ethiopian. The experience of living with all the ambiguities inherent in a hyphenated identity continues to animate his research interests in the historical formations of social identities and the mechanisms by which they are formulated, maintained, negotiated, attacked, and defended. In his research, Binyam is interested in a number of topics related to the study of the intersections between religion and identity, especially the influence of Christian ideologies on the historical developments of antisemitism and racism. He received his Ph.D. in Religion from Florida State University in 2017. His dissertation sheds light on the receptions of Josephus’s Jewish War within several different socio-cultural contexts, from anti-Jewish Christian polemics of the fourth century to the medieval Ethiopic text known as the Zena Ayhud (“History of the Jews”), the latter being an adaptation of the Hebrew Sefer Yosippon by way of an Arabic intermediary text. He focused particularly on various rhetorical framings of the suffering of the Jews during the siege of Jerusalem, which Christian authors employed as one mode of vilifying the Jews collectively.