Mediating Shifting Identities: A Multi-Year Collaborative New Media Ethnography of Individuals Transitioning to and from Ultra Orthodox Jewish Identities

Devorah Heitner (Assistant Professor of Communication, Lake Forest College); consulting colleague Katya Gibel Mevorach (Professor of Anthropology, Grinnell College)

This project builds on Professor Heitner's interest in media and identity in a realm that, more than a decade into pervasive Internet usage, we are still calling "new media." Specifically, the collaborative team will use media ethnography and textual analysis to consider how individuals transition their identities to and from ultra-orthodox (haredi) identities. They will be investigating the new media productions and consumptions of individuals who are moving into ultra-orthodox Jewish identities and individuals and individuals transitioning out of ultra-orthodoxy. The project attempt to understand how these individuals use blogs, social networking and video sharing sites for communication, recruitment, autobiography, journalism and pedagogy.

This project suggests new possibilities for student-faculty collaboration by considering students as collaborators and not assistants, by including students in the research design as well as application, by considering them as experts in interdisciplinary collaboration.