I might disclose that I recently got a paper accepted for publication that I have collaberated upon with Dr. Heidi Campbell of Texas A&M University entitled: "Creating Digital Enclaves: Negotiation of the Internet Amongst Bounded Religious Communities" in Media Culture and Society. I'll talk about that paper another day.
Today I want to share with you the abstract of a paper I have written for a book Heidi is editing. Its' still a draft, so there may be changes, however I thought some of you might be interested. It stems from my last year of ethnographic work in New York and interviews with Jewish website operators. In this case, the Jewish-Chassidic Chabad movement that offers a rich and fervent tracts over the Internet, particularly in websites such as Chabad.org or col.org.il. The paper is entitled: Charting Frontiers of Online Religious Communities: The case of Chabad Jews. Here is its abstract, please let me know if you have any comments or ideas about it all:
Late modernity and its new media forms place the religious world at an ongoing tension to accept the Internet for advancing their community building efforts or actively avoid its adverse effects. By examining the case of Chabad Jews the study aims to show how religious communities use the Internet to invite new members and expand their influence while catering to their own communities and consolidating existent membership. A comparative examination of three key websites: chabad.org, crownheights.info and col.org.il that include net observations and interviews with 15 website operators in Israel and the US between 2009-2010 unveil a ‘division of labor’ between websites that either emphasize outward exposure towards a transnational community through Jewish education or are oriented inward and focus on communal rites (e.g. weddings, bar-mitzvahs), safety and inner doings. The community building that occurred in Chabad illuminates the ways these websites act as institutional builders that fortify solidarity and reinforce its values and religious zeal.