The Four "R"s: Strategies for Legitimizing Science for Religious Publics, and their Prices

Hybrid event in ERI G53 and via Zoom.
Wednesday 6 July 2022 (14:00-16:00)

Dr Lea Taragin-Zeller, Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies and Public Policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will give a seminar to staff and students focusing on science communication among ultra-Orthodox Jews

As science communication continues to benefit specific (e.g. affluent, college-educated and non-disabled) audiences, a variety of models for inclusive science communication have been developed, especially shaped to take into account gender, race and disability (Canfield et al, 2020; Dawson, 2020). In this lecture, we focus on the understudied lens of religion to highlight the challenges science communication poses for religious minorities. Advancing recent interest in lay believer’s attitudes and understanding of science (Elsdon-Baker and Lightman 2020; Jones et al 2020), we  analyze the ways ultra-Orthodox Jews legitimize science. Based on interviews with ultra-Orthodox journalists, content analysis of science-related content in ultra-Orthodox media and interviews with ultra-Orthodox audiences, we identify four main strategies for legitimizing science, which we call the four “R”s - removing, reclaiming, remodeling and rubricating science. These strategies provide insights to the ways inclusive science communication is produced by and for  religious communities, while emphasizing the diverse ways science communication plays out in practice. Our analysis also reveals the prices these processes entail. As importation information about the process of making science is omitted, female scientists are pushed to the margins, and scientific epistemologies are framed as second-place to religious knowledge, this paper offers a unique case study to question the limits of inclusive science communication. 

Dr Lea Taragin-Zeller is a social and medical anthropologist with research interests in religion, medical anthropology, gender, reproduction and public policy. She is Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies and Public Policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an affiliated scholar at the Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc), University of Cambridge. Lea has published in leading international journals, such as American Anthropologist, Medical Anthropology and Science Communication and serves as a section editor in Cambridge’s journal of Reproductive Biomedicine and Society Online. Over the years, she has developed a comparative and interdisciplinary research method to examine state-minority politics on different scalar levels.

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