With a month until my adventures in Jordan begin, my anxiety has reached its’ peak. So much to do prepare and plan for; I find myself avoiding my first post for fear that I will sound too formal or too anxious or too idealist or digressing in getting to my point—which I have already done.
The first thing I need to do is thank all those for the support they have shown me in this past fall semester of preparations. First I would like to thank the faculty at the School of Media and Public Affairs. To Professor Harvey for her amazing guidance and support in our weekly meetings preparing grant proposals, discussing my research topic, and providing safety tips. We would spend hours in her office writing proposals and recommendations, all in order for me to find financial support for my research. Then to the committee, who selected me to receive the Manheim-Sterling Grant, I am honored to receive the award and I hope to make the best of the experience that they have provided financial support. In addition, I would also like to thank Professor Roberts and Professor Usher for the guidance and support in clarifying and assisting with combing through my research proposal. Finally, Professor Youmans for being my first internship advisor and also heightened my interest in Arab Media.
Outside of SMPA I have had so much guidance from my other professionals and friends. Lillian Frost for her initial research project while at UVA which provided guidance in where to start my research. To Emma Cosgrove for her advice about living in Jordan and other Middle East countries. To other professors such as Professor Schwedler from Hunter College and Professor Fida Adely from Georgetown for their research advice and comments. I especially want to thank Bokum Lee and Uchechi Kalu for their friendship and support in applying to Middlebury College in Amman, Jordan and giving me more motivation and drive to learn Arabic. Finally to my friends and family that supported me in applying for my study abroad and having their encouragement to attempt a research project. I promise to write a lot and stay safe.
Now to discuss my research project.
My main research question will be: what role does social media play in the conversation about women in Jordan? More specifically, I hope to focus on women between the ages of 18 and 30 to get an idea of how they use, interact, and identify themselves through blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. Directly connecting both of my majors Journalism and Mass Communications and Arab Language and Culture, this interdisciplinary study of two of my passions is original as there is very little written about this topic, but I believe this research is important for understanding the way in which media platforms are viewed for a wide variety of people globally, with the specificity of Jordanian women.
Other research questions are: What types of social media are Jordanian women using? What ethnographic, demographically, and age background do the women have who are using social media? How do Jordanian women identify themselves? In what setting? What are women leaders saying about themselves as women in the context of social media? Is there a bias in the social media context on women? What social changes do women hope for in the conversation about themselves online? How do men talk about women on social media? Do they talk about women?
My main objective is to shed light on topics related to gender inequality, news biases towards women in Jordan, in the framework of social media. Prior to this study abroad opportunity, I conducted research about women working in Arab Media while working under Nadia Bilbassy at Middle East Broadcasting. This sparked my interested in further researching about women identifying themselves in the context of social media. As an independent study for my journalism concentration I thought that examining women through ethnographic means by starting research about Jordanian women.
In order to gather my research, I will be recording my personal interviews with a wide range of women such as leaders, stay-at-home mothers, professionals, and college students. I hope to write based off of personal experiences with these women also and provide a narrative that only an outsider living in the country would be able to extract. I will begin weekly or biweekly blog posts about the various research questions mentioned above. The blog will include pictures, videos, and audio hopefully culminating in a multimedia presentation during or prior to study abroad. Upon my arrival in the states for all 2014 I will be doing research to further back up the interviews and blog posts I have already completed. I would also like to have some of the content I write to be published and the video will culminate into a final multimedia project with a combination of video, audio, and photography. My inspiration for these videos is One in Eight Million from a New York Times bloggers Sarah Kramer and Alexis Mainland.
Prior to traveling, I will research various social media outlets for individuals to follow, the present conversation about women in Jordanian culture, and begin to plan interviews with various women. In addition, I have already established several contacts in the region and at GW to assist with research. After my semester abroad in fall 2014, I will use the research for an independent study under Professor Harvey and a senior thesis project.