Dr. Melissa R. Meade is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication at Allegheny College. She has written and researched across media studies, labor and identity, civil society, critical/cultural communication, digital media, community engagement, and language and social interaction. Her book project is a multi-year ethnography of the Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania and its diaspora in which she investigates the many ways that global capitalism reorganizes social difference through its regimes of resource extraction, labor displacement, and environmental classism. The analysis of these constructions is based on three sets of data: material gathered during several years of offline fieldwork in the Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania, autoethnographic stories (as a Coal Region resident and the granddaughter of miners), and the collaboration with local participants vis-à-vis a public digital humanities forum that she created and maintains called “the Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania Digital Project.” (See https://anthracitecoalregion.org/). On this forum, community members contributed their first-hand stories and artifacts illustrating life in the Anthracite Region. Residents document how they come to terms in contradictory ways with the effects of environmental inequality: They acknowledge how extractive sites continue to generate values as abandoned lands “rented” for toxic waste disposal and they also attest to the place-based identities that emerge from these experiences of inequity. Her research offers a breakthrough by highlighting the shift from the industrial to what is now the service economy in Rust Belt communities. This shift has created a new national working-class in the wake of de-industrialization. Dr. Meade’s work bridges the gap between virtual and offline ethnography and highlights the counternarratives that residents of the Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania tell about the lived experiences of deindustrialization.
Dr. Meade has received numerous awards for her research including the 2020 Constance Coiner Award in Working Class Studies, the 2020 Best Dissertation Award from the National Communication Association’s Ethnography Division, the Donald P. Cushman Memorial Award, and a Top Competitive Paper in Ethnography from the National Communication Association. Her article “In the Shadow of the Coal Breaker: Cultural Extraction and Digital Dialogical Communication in the Anthracite Coal-Mining Region” published in Cultural Studies won both “Journal Article of the Year” in American Studies and “Top Journal Article” in Ethnography from the National Communication Association in 2017. Her research has been published in a number of outlets including Cultural Studies, Discourse & Communication, CineJ Cinema Journal, The International Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods, and in edited volumes. She has work under revision for Media, War, & Conflict.
Dr. Meade has been a part of various communities: a co-organizer for the Global Fusion Conference, an Early Career Scholar for the Language and Social Interaction Division of the International Communication Association, a University Fellow at Temple University, a Center for the Humanities at Temple (CHAT) Digital Humanities Scholar at Temple University, a HASTAC Digital Humanities Scholar, a participant in the ILIADS Digital Humanities Summer Institute at Hamilton College, and a recipient of a teaching commendation by the Villanova University Office of Athletics. Previously, her research has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Rotary Foundation, Villanova University’s Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society, the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation, and the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission. She is currently a recipient of the National Communication Association Advancing the Discipline Grant.
Before pursuing a career in academia, Dr. Meade worked and studied in various areas of communication including public communication, intercultural communication, media, and language. In addition to a Ph.D. in Media and Communication from the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, she holds a Master’s degree in Educational Linguistics and Intercultural Communication and a Graduate Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a Postgraduate Diploma in Intercultural Studies from the University of the Basque Country located in Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain where she was a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar. She completed her undergraduate degree at Albright College. She speaks fluent Spanish. Prior to coming to Allegheny College, she was a visiting assistant professor of Communication at Villanova University, and she taught Communication and liberal arts courses at Temple University, the University of the Arts (Philadelphia), and Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), Querétaro, Mexico.