Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Image credit:

Patricia J. Woods, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Political Science

Center for Jewish Studies 

Affiliate, Center for Global Islamic Studies

Affiliate, Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research

Mailing address:

University of Florida
234 Anderson Hall, Box 117325

Gainesville, FL 32611
Tel: 352-273-2370;
Fax: 352-392-8127

Office: 222 Anderson

Judicial Power and National Politics: Courts and Gender in the Religious-Secular Conflict in Israel 

Coming soon in its Second Edition!  By Patricia J. Woods

For works of fiction by Dr. Woods, click here.

Current Courses and Basic Information

Fall 2015 Office Hours

222 Anderson Hall

Mondays 1:30 - 3:30 p.m., and Tuesdays 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Fall 2015 Courses:

CPO 3403 (213B) / JST 3930 (1C27) POLITICS OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST with daily reading schedule; press refresh, or delete cookies if you are not seeing pages 5-9.

POS 4931 (1295) / REL 4936 (22AB) / JST 4936 (055G) / WST 4930 (055A) THE HEBREW GODDESS

Spring 2016 Courses:

CPO 6407 Modern Middle East Politics

CPO 2001 Introduction to Comparative Politics (web course)

Basic Information



COURSES (2001-present)


Haifa 2010
Copyright (c) 2010 by Patricia J. Woods

Robinson's Arch and Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem 1995
Copyright (c) 1995 by Patricia J. Woods


UF logo

Patricia J. Woods received her Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Modern Middle East Politics from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 2001. In addition to her Ph.D., Dr. Woods received graduate certificates in Comparative Law and Society, and Comparative Gender Politics.  She conducted most of her studies and research there within the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Department of Political Science, and the Department of Near and Middle East Languages and Literatures.  She is trained in Hebrew; French; Arabic (advanced - written); and has elementary training in German, Turkish, and Haitian Creole.  She is trained in ethnographic field work methods, comparative historical field work methods, and has constructed and conducted one national survey.  She has published on field methods, comparative judicial politics, gender politics, religious-secular identity issues, ethnic politics in gender context, and the intersection of law, religion, and gender politics.  The country she knows best is Israel, and she is trained, has done research, and teaches on these issues in the broader Muslim Middle East.  She has received national grants for her research from the National Science Foundation, three awards from the Social Science Research Council, the Dorot Foundation, and collegiate awards from the Office of the Provost, University of Florida, as well as travel awards from various departments and centers at the University of Washington and the University of Floirda.  She began as an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Jewish Studies at the University of Florida in August 2001.  She is currently Associate Professor of Political Science and Jewish Studies, and affiliate with the Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research, and the Center for Global Islamic Studies.


Dr. Woods has been a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University; Visiting Fellow, Birkbeck College of Law, University of London; Visiting Foreign Researcher, Group d'Analyses des Politiques Publiques, ENS-Cachan, France; Visiting Scholar, Hebrew University Department of Political Science; and visiting affiliate, Tel Aviv University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology.   She has spent time as a student at Haifa University, and at Birzeit University in the West Bank


Prior to her doctoral work, Dr. Woods did Master's and Bachelor's level training in Comparative Religion.  Her MA work centered on Islamic Studies and Jewish Studies.  Her BA work centered on Jewish Studies and Islamic Studies.  She is Associate Professor of Political Science and Jewish Studies at the University of Florida; Affiliate, Center for Global Islamic Studies; and Affiliate, Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research.  She specializes in comparative judicial politics, Israel, and Middle East politics, particularly relating to the intersection of religion, law, and gender politics.  Her research on these themes centers on intellectual, political, and communal links between state and social actors.   In her teaching and research, she is most interested in bottom-up socio-political change and the ways that social actors can have an impact on the construction or re-construction of state institutions, in Israel and across the Middle East.


Dr. Woods is Editor of the Series, Gender in Jewish Studies at the Academic Studies Press, a Jewish Studies press in Brighton, MA.  (If you do work on gender -- female or male -- in Jewish Studies, broadly construed, please contact me!)  She is on the Academic Advisory Committee of the Rothberg International School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  She has been on the Executive Board of the Association for Israel Studies, Program Chair of its largest national conference as of that date (2003), and dissertation workshop Chair (2004) and committee member (2003) for the Association for Israel Studies.  In graduate school, she was co-founder and president of the Association for Israel Studies Graduate Student Organization (1996-2001); she was Graduate-Faculty Liaison for the Middle East Studies Association Graduate Student Organization (1995); and she was Graduate-Faculty Liaison for the Middle East Program at the University of Washington (1994-2001).  


Her book, Judicial Power and National Politics: Courts and Gender in the Religious-Secular Conflict in Israel was published in the State University of New York Series in Israel Studies, 2008.  Keep an eye out for the Second Edition of Judicial Power and National Politics!!  For more on Dr. Woods' publications, see below on this page.  Her selected photos of Jerusalem and Haifa.


Dr. Woods is dedicated to the undergraduate and graduate student missions at the University of Florida.  Her former undergraduates have gone on to do research on women in Bangladesh, gender and Islamic movements in Turkey, LGBT issues in the Middle East, ethnic politics and the women's movement in Israel, languge study in various parts of the Middle East, work for the United Nations, law school, clerkships with Florida judges, civil society organizing in the U.S. and abroad, work with the U.S. military, and work with U.S. NGOs or government organizations.  Many of her former undergraduate students now work as lawyers in Florida, New York, Georgia, Washington, D.C., and other states.   Former graduate students who she has helped to advise have gone on to work as professors at several state universities around the U.S., conduct civil society organizing in Sudan, work in government ministries, work at universities in South America, and work within the legal profession in the United States and abroad.  Her graduate students tend to work on judicial politics, bottom-up aspects of state-society relations, historical institutionalism, or Middle East politics.  


In addition, Dr. Woods has written a number of works of fiction that take on themes of gender, power, and war, including a screen play of Cleopatra; several rock operas and musicals; several plays; and many short stories.  Dr. Woods has published eight volumes of her fiction under her own publishing house; all are distributed by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. and are available exclusivley for Kindle.  Several of her rock operas and musicals and other works are still available on her writing blog:

 Recent Activities: 
  • Series editor, Gender in Jewish Studies, Academic Studies Press, Brighton, MA
  • Faculty Senator, University of Florida 2015 - 2018
  • Fulbright Foundation, National Screening Committee 2015 
  • Academic Advisory Committee, Rothberg International School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2013 - present
  • Chair, Curriculum Committee, Department of Political Science, 2015-2016
  • Member, College Curriculum Committee, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Florida, 2014-2016
  • Member, Faculty Quality Assurance Committee, Distance Learning (e-courses), University of Florida, 2013 - present
  • Member, Harn Museum Advisory Committee for the exhibit:  Full Disclosure: Images of War in the 21st Century, scheduled to open February through July, 2016, at the Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida
  • Chair, Curriculum Committee, Department of Political Science, University of Florida, 2013-2014; Fall 2014
  • Reviewer, American Political Science Review
  • Reviewer, Law and History Review
  • Reviewer, Israel Law Review
  • Reviewer, Law and Society Review
  • Reviewer, Journal of Church and State
  • Reviewer, Oxford University Press
  • Fulbright Foundation, National Screening Committee 2013
  • Program Director, UF in Jerusalem Summer 2014 Study Abroad Program
  • Film Series Coordinator, "Politics Through Feature Film," Department of Political Science, University of Florida, 2013-2014, 2014-2015
  • Reviewer, UF International Center summer study abroad scholarships, University of Florida, 2013-2014


Dr. Woods' works of fiction take on themes of Old World/New World, East/West, traditional/modern, and gender issues.  They tend to highlight what is valuable in the Old World, and what is lost in the New.  Alternately, they take classical figures, or figures from Classical mythologies, and re-situate them as Middle Eastern.  As a body of work, they are engaged in re-imagining the female archetypal figure found in Western cycles about the harlot queen.  These can be found in the West in Western constructions of Guinevere, Cleopatra, and others.  These works also reimagine love, construct positive and loving gender relations between male and female, and offer something of a critique of what we have lost in the West by embracing late-19th century modernist paradigms of the hard, disconnected New Man and his correspondingly unspoken, silent, and unheard new woman.  A number of the works take on inter-cultural relations, particularly between the West and the Middle East.  Others revive legends of queens found outside of the legends known in the West , and either reconstruct or retell them along the lines of this reconstructionist and traditionalist gender project.  Still others take a modernist frame and portray modern relationships from the inside-out in their ideal-typical alienated form, often taking the vanage of a traditionalist man lost in a modernist paradise of careers, new women, and modernist expectations of him.  In that way, some of these works explore both gendered-female and gendered-male expectations of modern society and their implications on human lives.  Several fairy tales, folk tales, and love stories superimpose a traditionalist -- and "enchanted" or religiously-infused  (for coining the term, see Deeb 2006) -- form of love on an otherwise modernist frame.  (Dr. Woods is a practicing Buddhist, and, therefore, the exploration of re-infusing God into these questions, found in of some of these works, is not specific to any particular religion.)

Links appear below...
Reimagining the Queen: Love, War, and Fairy Tales (Short Stories)Reimagining the Queen II: Mythology Comes to LifeReimagining the Queen III: Plays and Play ShortsReimagining the Queen IV: Gypsum and Other Stories
Reimagining the Queen V: Romanticism PersonifiedThe Lotus Café: Une Histoire de Dean et Fara à Londres (A Play in English and French)The Fall of Yonas and AphroditeLove Songs: Conversations Between the Sun and the Moon (A Book of Poetry)



Judicial Power and National Politics
Courts and Gender in the Religious-Secular Conflict in Israel

By Patricia J. Woods

"This well-written book makes an important contribution by pushing the analysis of the controversies surrounding judicial intervention/activism to take ideas seriously. It provides a very persuasive account of Israel's High Court of Justice's involvement in religious issues and the key role of the judicial community in precipitating that involvement. At the same time, Woods attends to the roles of institutional factors and social movements in facilitating the controversial rights actions/decisions of the HCJ. This book is a must read for scholars of law and politics."  -- Austin Sarat, Amherst College


"The author's notion of an extended judicial community of judges, academic lawyers, and cause lawyers is a major move forward in the 'new institutionalism' in the study of law and courts."  -- Martin Shapiro, Boalt Law School, University of California at Berkeley


“Her study of Israeli judicial politics is shrewd, sophisticated, culturally sensitive, and historically grounded … Judicial Power and National Politics is a welcome addition to the scholarship on comparative judicial politics, and Patricia Woods is a welcome new voice in the field … The impact of her work will cut across subfields and enrich the political science discipline.” — Judith A. Baer, Department of Political Science, Texas A&M University, for The Law and Politics Book Review


Uses the case of Israel to examine the circumstances that lead national courts to engage heated political issues.


Publisher Summary:

Patricia J. Woods examines a controversial issue in the politics of many countries around the world: the increasing role that courts and justices have played in deeply charged political battles. Through an extensive case study of the religious-secular conflict in Israel, she argues that the most important determining factor explaining when, why, and how national courts enter into the world of divisive politics is found in the intellectual or judicial communities with whom justices live, work, and think about the law on a daily basis. The interaction among members of this community, Woods maintains, is an organic, sociological process of intellectual exchange.  Over time, it culminates in new legal norms.  These legal norms may, through court cases, become binding legal principles. Given the right conditions -- electoral democracy, basic judicial independence, and some institutional constraints -- courts may use these new legal norms as the basis for a jurisprudence that justifies hearing controversial cases and allows for creative answers to major issues of national political contention.


Available now from State University of New York Press.



Reviews of my book:
In the Law and Politics Book Review, Law and Courts section of the American Political Science Association
In the journal,Comparative Political Studies
In the journal, Israel Studies Forum, Association for Israel Studies

Jerusalem 1995 Copyright (c) 1995 by Patricia J. Woods

The Dome of the Rock from the Muslim Quarter, Jerusalem
Photo Copyright  © 1995 by Patricia J. Woods

  1. Forthcoming, “Women’s Movement Mobilization in Israel,” in Judaism in the Twenty First Century: The New Scholarship on Israel edited by Frederick Greenspahn.  New York University Press.  

  2. Forthcoming, "Fault Lines" in The Cambridge Companion to Judaism and Law edited by Christine Hayes.  Cambridge University Press.

  3. Patricia J. Woods and Haluk Karadağ, "Rights or Riots? Regional Institutional and Cultural Legacies in the MENA Region, and the Case of Turkey" in Journal of Power, Politics & Governance 3:1 (June 2015): 63-79.

  4. The Politics of Fracture: Identity, Difference, and Fissures in the Image of a Singular, Unified Israeli State” in The Everyday Life of the State: A State-in-Society Approach, edited by Adam White, University of York. University of Washington Press, 2013.

  5. "Comparative Sources of Judicial Empowerment: Ideas and Interests" a mini-symbosium edited by Lisa Hilbink and Patricia J. Woods, December 2009, Political Research Quarterly

  6. Patricia J. Woods and Lisa Hilbink, "Comparative Sources of Judicial Empowerment: Ideas and Interests," introduction to a mini-symposium by edited Lisa Hilbink and Patricia J. Woods, Political Research Quarterly, December 2009.

  7. Patricia J. Woods, "The Ideational Roots of Israel's Constitutional Revolution" by Patricia J. Woods in "Comparative Sources of Judicial Empowerment: Ideas and Institutions" a mini-symposium edited by Lisa Hilbink and Patricia J. Woods, Political Research Quarterly, December 2009.

  8. "Cause Lawyers as Knowledge Holders and Legal Innovators With And Against the State: Symbiosis or Oppositon?" co-authored with Scott W. Barclay, in: Studies in Law, Politics, and Society 45 (2008): 203-234.

  9. "Judicial Power and National Politics," an essay in Secular Culture and Ideas, a publication of JBooks, July 2008:

  10. Cause Lawyers and Judicial Community in Israel: Legal Change in a Diffuse, Normative Community” in The Worlds Cause Lawyers Make: Structure and Agency in Legal Practice, edited by Austin Sarat and Stuart Scheingold, Stanford University Press, 2005.

  11. "It’s Israeli After All: A Survey of Israeli Women’s Movement Volunteers" Israel Studies Forum 19:2 (April 2004).

  12. "Gender and the Reproduction and Maintenance of Group Boundaries: Why the 'Secular' State Matters to Religious Authorities in Israel" in Boundaries and Belonging: States and Societies in the Struggle to Shape Identities and Local Practices, Joel S. Migdal, ed., Cambridge University Press, March 2004.

  13. Normes juridiques et changement politique en Israël Droit et Société 55:3 (December 2003): 605-628.  (English version)

  14. Prayer, Contentious Politics, and the Women of the Wall: The Benefits of Collaboration in Participant Observation at Intense, Multi-Focal Eventswith Steven Mazie in Field Methods 15:1 (February 2003): 25-50. 


Images of Jerusalem
(Below)  All photos Copyright (c) by Patricia J. Woods.

Jerusalem, Old City, Area of Robinson's Arch, Copyright (c) 1995 by Patricia J. Woods           Jerusalem Copyright (c) 1999 by Patricia J. Woods

 Jerusalem, Old City, Muslim Quarter from the Austrian Hospice, Copyright (c) 1997 by Patricia J. Woods

"Haifa: Through the Window"
Copyright (c) 2010 by Patricia J. Woods

Haifa Through the Window Copyright by Patricia J. Woods 2010        Haifa Through the Window Copyright by Patricia J. Woods 2010

Haifa Through the Window Copyright 2010 by Patricia J. Woods        Haifa Through the Window Coyright 2010 by Patricia J. Woods

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