Research interests: social and cultural history of Spain and the Hispanic world (14th-16th centuries); the justice system; bureaucracy and state formation; women and the law; historical sociology; the history of Jews and conversos.
Yanay Israeli studied history at the University of Michigan. Drawing on extensive archival research and on hundreds of unpublished records, his doctoral thesis focused on petitioning the monarch as a social practice in fifteenth-century Castile. Israeli's current research project seeks to develop a novel account of the political culture of late medieval and early modern Spain by tracing the “social lives” of royal documents. This project examines how a wide range of historical actors, including commoners, obtained royal decrees in their favor, and then employed them in local conflicts. Israeli argues that tens of thousands of local interactions, in which subjects relied on royal decrees in order to make social claims, threaten rivals, and negotiate and challenge local constellations of power deeply affected the political and social reality of the Hispanic world. These interactions shaped new modes of thought and action, giving new meanings to concepts such as sovereignty, justice and political community. In other works, Israeli studied urban riots, violence against Iberian conversos, and the use of judicial practices in local conflicts.