Lea Taragin-Zeller is a social and medical anthropologist, trained at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Cambridge. As an ethnographer of biomedicine and society, Lea’s research explores how ‘secular’ and scientific knowledge is negotiated among ethnic and faith minorities – influencing their decisions and raising new ethical dilemmas. More specifically, her research examines how religious minorities and migrants in both Israel and the UK integrate and reconcile frameworks of biomedical knowledge alongside faith, religious theology and authority. From contraception and abortions to genetic testing, Lea examines everyday decision-making vis-à-vis state-minority relations, intersectional dynamics and transnational networks. Her forthcoming monograph is based on seven years of in-depth ethnographic research with Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox couples in Israel, and showcases the ways that shifting state policies concerning demographic anxieties affect intimate desires.Lea has published in leading international journals, such as American Anthropologist, Medical Anthropology and Science Communication
In response to the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on minorities , Lea is examining the particular challenges science communication poses for religious minorities. In a new project, “Religion, Science Communication and COVID-19”, we draw on studies in science communication and medical anthropology to shed light on the particular types of decision making that characterize COVID-19 related decision-making among Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Lea is also part of the interdisciplinary research project: “Communicating Science among the Jewish Ultra-Orthodox in Israel: Journalistic Praxis and Audience Reception in Insular Communities” explores whether and how the Haredi community in Israel is legitimating and appropriating scientific knowledge (together with Prof. Ayelet Baram-Tsabari, Technion; Yael Rosenblum, Technion; Prof. Oren Golan and Prof. Yariv Tsfati, University of Haifa). This interdisciplinary project investigates the role of the Haredi press in communicating science and explores the meaning-making processes of Haredi readers as they engage with science education in Haredi media.
Lea is also leading a new research project “Medicine at State Margins”.. Funded by the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, this ethnographic study examines the particular challenges genetic testing poses for ethnic and religious minorities in Israel-Palestine.