Laura Partain

Contact Information

  • Email:

  • Research and Creative Interests

    Global Media, Refugees and Forced Migration, Communication in Diaspora, Social Psychology, Cultural Studies, Mixed Methods Research, Politics of Representation, News Media and Politics, Intercultural Communication, Health and Wellness Communication, Media Effects on Stereotyping and Identity,


    Laura Partain is a PhD Candidate in IU's Media School. She has a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Religious Studies and Middle Eastern Studies and an MA from the University of Texas-Austin in Middle Eastern Studies. Her PhD research focuses on cycles of media effects, examining the way in which news media products and rhetoric journey through various stages of production, consumption, reaction, and re-mediation. By interrogating normative US media representations of Middle Eastern communities within the Middle East and in diaspora, she investigates productive discusive space that lingers between preveailing US media representations–such as those depicting Syrian refugees as dangerous and subversive–and subsequent Middle Eastern interventions through political and artistic performative resistance. This work centers the experiences of Syrian and Palestinian communities, including Syrian Americans, Palestinian Americans, Syrian and Palestinian forced migrants, and Syrians and Palestinians residing in their communities of origin and in the wider Middle East, but her larger body of research includes Iranian and Lebanese communities as well. 

    Relying on mixed methodologies, Partain utilizes experimental, interview, and critical discursive methods to examine media’s role in immigration, religion, and racial politics as it relates to US policy and human rights on a global scale. Investigating this complex web of interaction, Partain analyzes how news and entertainment media, such as the 2016 Presidential cycle or Wonderwoman, facilitates state and citizenry regulation of bodies on the margins and the extent to which citizenship is always precarious upon global politics and acceptable nationalist behavior. Using these representations as a point of departure, Partain researches self-representation and marginalized communities’ reclamation over their representations in global communication practices. 

    Conference Presentations

    • “Speaking Emissaries: Lebanese Women’s Rights NGO KAFA and Its Media Use for Audience Mobilization.” National Communication Association, Nov. 2018
    • “A critical approach to investigating communication practices of marginalized populations using longitudinal field experiments.” International Communication Association, May, 2018
    • “WWJD in the 2016 Primaries: US Evangelicals' and Politicians’ Christian Nationalist Rhetoric Demonizing Syrian Refugees.” National Communication Association, Nov. 2017
    • “(Not) Enough Said:  Lebanese Women’s Rights NGO KAFA and Its Media Use for Audience Mobilization.” IU Cultural Studies Conference. Oct. 2017
    • “Best of Both Worlds or Refusal to Comply?: The Rich Kids of Tehran on Instagram.” International Communication Association. May, 2017
    • “A Dance of Destruction with Ari Folman: On ‘Working Through,’ ‘Empathetic Unsettlement,’ and ‘Cinematic Reverse Shots’ in Dual Perpetrator and Victim Trauma”. UT Graduate Student Conference in Comparative Literature. Sept. 2014

    Invited Presentations

    • Invited Panel Respondent at Indiana University Representing Religion Symposium. May 2018
    • Invited Panelist at Media School Conference: Common Ground, “Doing Difference Differently” Workshop. Feb. 2018

    Independent Research

    • Field Experiment on the Effects of Stable Phone Access on Access to Healthcare, Employment and Social Support with Amy Gonzales-Data Collected between October 2017-August 2018
    • Scared Senseless: Experimental Effects of North American Reactions towards Syrian Refugees Representations-Head Researcher with Andrew Weaver as PI-May 2016-Present


    • The Ogan Fund Fellowship, 2018
    • IU Graduate Fellowship GR, 2018-2019 
    • Media School Student Paper of the Year, 2017
    • The Ogan Fund Fellowship, 2017
    • Anna L. Homquest Fellowship, 2017
    • Alex M. Doty Memorial Fellowship, 2017
    • UT Austin Departmental Scholarship for Persian Summer Program, 2015
    • Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) program Arabic Scholarship, 2014
    • UT-Austin Department of Middle Eastern Studies Scholarship, 2014
    • Phi Beta Kappa Award-University of Wisconsin Madison, 2013


    • LUCE/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs Grant
      • Assisted Professor of Practice Elaine Monaghan-2017

    Academic Service

    • NCA Conference Submission Reviewer
      •   Mass Communication Division
      •   Spring 2018
    • IU Media School’s Representing Religion Symposium
      •   One of Head Organizers
      •   Spring 2018
    • Media School Faculty Search Committee for Environmental Communication
      •   Fall 2017
    • Media School Graduate Association
      •   Co-President—Internal Voice Chair
      •   Fall 2016-Spring 2017
    • Graduate Affairs Committee
      •   Graduate Student Representative
      •   Fall 2016-Spring 2017

    Prepared Guest Lectures

    • Media Representations of Middle Eastern Communities
      •   In the course “Race, Prejudice and Media”
      •   Spring 2018
    • Race and the Media
      •   In the course “Media and Society”
      •   Fall 2017
    • Qualitative Methodologies
      •   In the course “Audience Analysis”
      •   Spring 2017
    • Race and the Media
      •   In the course “Introduction to Media and Society”
      •   Fall 2016
    • Media Campaigns
      •   In the course “Introduction to Media and Society”
      •   Fall 2016
    • Gender and the Media
      •   In the course “Introduction to Media and Society”
      •   Fall 2016

    Courses Taught/Teaching

    At IU

    • Media 101 (Associate Instructor)
      • Spring 2016, Spring 2018
    • Media and Society (Teaching Assistant)
      • Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017
    • Audience Analysis (Teaching Assistant)
      • Spring 2017

    At UT-Austin

    • The United States of American since 1865
      • Spring 2015
    • The Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century
      • Fall 2014

    Recent News