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OU journalism professor to conduct research in Romania

Thursday, June 6, 2013
OU journalism professor to conduct research in Romania
By Katie Williams, student writer

For the second time in three years, Dr. Adina Schneeweis will travel to Romania this June for ethnographic work with the Roma, an at-risk population commonly known as gypsies. 

Since joining Oakland in 2009, the assistant professor of journalism has been awarded two University Faculty Research Fellowships to support research in her native Romania. 

She became interested in the plight of the Roma while studying race, ethnicity and stereotypes for her graduate work at the University of Minnesota. 

Dr. Schneeweis will bring this experience and more back to Oakland's journalism department, where she offers photojournalism and international communication courses. 

“I came to understand this huge need. There’s almost complete segregation of the Roma based on misunderstanding,” she said. “For me, deciding to study the Roma was a very personal journey. I couldn’t continue doing racial and ethnic work when there were mass stereotypes I didn’t fully understand.” 

Dr. Schneeweis will study the communication practices of non-governmental organizations that advocate the rights of the Roma. Her focus will be determining how advocates frame their communication and the way in which international advocacy work is translated for their specific community need. 

“The movement for Roma rights uses a lot of communication material and vocabulary that is very common to other kinds of human rights and minority rights movements,” she said. “We can’t, however, make the assumption that if something works in one country that it automatically works the same way in another country. I want to see how the message gets translated into the Romanian context.” 

She will also work with a group of Roma women who serve as mediators in the public health system, a project Dr. Schneeweis began during her first research trip to Romania in 2011. 
In observing these women, Dr. Schneeweis hopes to examine how they define themselves. 

“When I spoke with them in 2011, they were hesitant with which pronoun to use. They kept going back and forth between ‘them’ and ‘us.’ The women spoke about feeling lonely at work and then also feeling disconnected at home,” she said. “How these mediators define themselves is important to understand the process of integration and how it affects the Roma community.” 

While in Romania, Dr. Schneeweis will also visit a local high school and her alma mater, Babes-Bolyai University, to meet with students pursuing journalism and mass communication degrees. 

Dr. Schneeweis’ work has been published in the Journal of Communication Inquiry, International Communication Gazette, Critical Public Health, the Journal of Visual Literacy, and Intercultural Communication Studies, among others. 

Prior to teaching at Oakland, Dr. Schneeweis worked as a documentarian and a freelance reporter. She views her ethnographic studies and background in journalism as a natural, almost inevitable, combination. 

“I do see the value of examining journalistic work, but as a critical scholar, I know that nothing is separated from other spheres,” she said. “You can’t talk about the choices of the media without looking at the contemporary society. Those choices are a response to a bigger picture.” 

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