Heather Munro is an anthropologist who conducts research with Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish communities. She joined the Department of Theology and Religious Studies in September 2022, following several short post-doctoral research projects in conjunction with the University of Oxford and Johns Hopkins University on Hasidic Jewish experiences of epidemic and attitudes towards public health in London and New York.
She completed her PhD in Anthropology in 2021 at Durham University on identity, religion, and the state among Haredi communities in the Holy Land. Prior to starting her PhD, Heather completed an MPhil in Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford and she earned her BA in 2008 from Connecticut College.
Research interests and PhD supervision
- Secularism, and religion and modernity
- Religion, gender, and agency; performing arts and embodiment in religious communities
- Religious identity and the state
- Activist movements in religious communities
- Religious minorities and public health
Heather Munro's previous research concerns religion and the state. Based on fieldwork conducted in Israel with Haredi (ultra-orthodox) women, mainly in the performing arts community and in the women’s rights activist groups, she examined the formation of Haredi identity as a resistance to secularising forces. She explored the constant negotiations of Haredi religious ethics with secular values and the state of Israel. Her work places women at the centre of this negotiation, and explores the unique agency of Haredi women. Her work contributes to understandings of the relationship between the secular state and religious minorities, religious women's feminisms, and emphasises the experiences of ethnic minorities within religious communities to offer intersectional understandings of religious activist movements.
Her recent research has expanded to Haredi communities in New York and London, exploring their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. This research explores themes of trust and mistrust, vaccine hesitancy and attitudes towards other types of public health mandates, and experiences of healthcare while infected, including ICU experiences. Heather's forthcoming publications will contribute to understandings of minority experiences of health care and public health crises, minority vaccine hesitancy, and the role of the state in death and other significant ritualised body experiences.
- Munro, Heather L. ׳Navigating Change: Agency, Identity, and Embodiment in Haredi Women’s Dance and Theater.׳ Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Vol. 38, Issue 2, Summer 2020, pp. 93-124.
- Munro, Heather L. 'The Politics of Language Choice in Israel.' Journal of Jewish Languages, Vol. 10, Issue 2, forthcoming Autumn 2022.
Heather teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate modules on anthropological topics in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.
Expertise and public engagement