Gabrielle Berlinger

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Cultures of Conservation

Vernacular Architecture; Ritual and Material Culture
Public Folklore and Museum AnthropologyJewish Ethnology

 Ph.D. Folklore, Indiana University
M.A. Indiana University
B.A. Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

As a folklorist and ethnologist, I draw upon the arts, humanities, and social sciences to study creative expression in everyday life. Within material culture studies, my work focuses on the nature and significance of vernacular architecture. I examine how the construction, interpretation, and use of ordinary structures and landscapes express their creators' histories, social practices, cultural customs and beliefs. My dissertation is an ethnographic study of the temporary ritual dwellings built for the annual Jewish festival of Sukkot. Based in a multi-ethnic, working-class neighborhood of south Tel Aviv, Israel, I examined the intersection of vernacular religious and architectural practices in a dense urban environment being challenged by socio-economic changes. Currently, I am conducting a collaborative project with the Lower East Side Tenement Museum to document the conservation process of the Museum's 19th century tenement building, a study that brings together architectural preservation, social history, and museum anthropology.

 2011 Review of Jewish Topographies: Visions of Space, Traditions of Place by Julia Brauch, et al. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2008. Western Folklore 70(1): 132-134

 2010 “770 Eastern Parkway: The Rebbe’s Home as Icon,” in Simon J. Bronner, ed., Jews at Home: The Domestication of Ritual (Jewish Cultural Series, vol. 2). Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, pp. 163-187

 2009 Review of Jews and Shoes by Edna Nahshon, ed. New York: Berg, 2008. Museum Anthropology 32(2): 152-154

 2009 Review of “Keeping the Faith: Judaica from the Aron Museum. An online exhibition of The Aron Museum.” Museum Anthropology 32(2): 117-118

 2006 Review of “From East to West: The Museum of Chinese in the Americas” (New York City, NY). Material World, December 7. (


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