Watch now: Women, Social Media and Religious Authority in North America (2021 Eakin Lecture)


Published: 24Mar2021

A lecture from anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Dr. Jessica Roda about how ultra-Orthodox women use social media as a transformative counterpublic space. This was the 2021 Eakin Lecture and took place on March 18, 2021.

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Dr. Roda’s research examines the use of social media by ultra-Orthodox women as a tool for the development of empowerment through an online ethnography of social media influencers and artists. The women in Dr. Roda’s research engage in writing, music, and film, and promote their work on their social media platforms. They label themselves as frum (Torah observant) female artists and are considered professionals because they acquire training from professionals in their fields, teach within their communities, and earn an income from their productions. Their followers readily join their Instagram live stories, Zoom calls, and online live shows, as well as keep up with their YouTube channels, highlighting a growing thirst for the representation of ultra-Orthodox women and girls in online spaces. Dr. Roda argues that frum female artists and influencers use social media as a transformative counterpublic space, in which they simultaneously challenge and reinforce religious norms and authority, creating multiple new expressions and understandings of female empowerment and female modesty.
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