Olick-Gibson wins the IAS outstanding honors thesis award

Rachel Olick-Gibson has won the International and Area Studies outstanding honors thesis award for her project, “Morocco’s Family Code: Feminism and Legislative Reform.” Olick-Gibson, AB ’21, majored in international and area studies and in Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern studies.

“Rachel inquires without judgment, interviews without creating a sense of bias, and examines complex issues from multiple perspectives, creating trust with her subjects,” said her advisor Elai Rettig, Israel Institute Teaching Fellow. “Her ability to be on the ground and speak to her subjects in their language and dialect was critical for gaining the insights she was seeking. To accomplish these goals Rachel took intensive language courses in both modern standard Arabic as well as the Moroccan dialect (Darija).”

Rachel’s thesis discussed recent developments in family law in Morocco, which underwent major reform a few years ago. “Her work impressed the prize committee most for the way it combined interviews with well-placed authorities in Morocco, hands-on engagement with the traditions of Islamic jurisprudence, and contemporary feminist theory from the Middle East and North Africa,” said Seth Graebner, associate professor of French and global studies. “Doing only one of these would have been good; doing all three credibly, and then producing excellent analysis combining them, went well beyond what we expect from senior theses. This was graduate work by any standard.”