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Quick Chat: Post Doc Diane Watt discusses her research into Muslims and the media

August 15,2014

Watt describes her work more fully in this quick chat.

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Diane Watt, a post-doctoral scholar in the WSE, grew up in BC and took her post-secondary studies there, as well as Alberta, Ottawa and France.  Through her spouse’s work she has lived in Pakistan, Syria, and Iran. And now she’s on the campus at the University of Calgary, where she conducts research into critical media-making projects with teachers and youth.

Watt’s particular interest in this area--how Muslims are represented in mass media—particularly western media—was piqued by the disconnect she felt between her experiences living abroad in countries where Islam was the dominant religion and how people of the Muslim faith were often portrayed in the media.

It caused her to consider how  differences are conveyed in and by the media, but also in other cultural situations like school curriculum and face-to-face encounters. Her current research involves a media-making project with Muslim youth, which looks at how digital technologies are taken up by youth from marginalized communities as a form of activism. More specifically, she’s collaborating with high school teachers and youth on two media-making projects to bring Muslim female youth perspectives into teacher education and to other educational and community audiences. This interdisciplinary project draws on critical youth studies, curriculum studies, and critical digital literacies.

“People may not realize the degree to which media messages constitute our assumptions, and why it’s important to question our relationships with difference,” she says. “The ability to critically read and produce media messages has therefore become an important part of what it means to be literate.”