Kathryn Montalbano

I am a scholar of communication history and law, religion and media, and surveillance studies. My book, Government Surveillance of Religious Expression: Mormons, Quakers, and Muslims in the United States (Routledge, 2018), compares how United States government agencies in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries monitored and negotiated the identities of three distinctive religious groups within cultural and legal frameworks deeply rooted in Protestant hegemony. Related research on mid-twentieth-century FBI surveillance of the Quaker organization, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), appears as a chapter in Making Surveillance States: Transnational Histories (University of Toronto Press, 2019).

I have also published on the historical continuity between the opposition of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) to the 1949 Fairness Doctrine and the contemporary Open Internet principle, net neutrality; intercultural communication in three thirteenth-century Franciscan friars’ narratives documenting their travels through the Mongol Empire; and Islamophobic discourse and misinformation in alternative-right media. Forthcoming work traces tensions in Mississippi Valley news coverage of the 1878 yellow fever epidemic.

Some of my current projects center on how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) shapes (1) debates in Congress about combatting disinformation, as well as (2) content moderation on anonymous social media platforms, such as the deceased Yik Yak. I am also analyzing how broadcast journalists on the “Big Three” television networks covered religion in the ten-year period leading up to the Iranian Revolution. Finally, I am examining how contemporary religion reporters (1) conceptualize their roles in the broader field of journalism and (2) confront the privileging of certain religions over others in their reporting.

I am currently an Assistant Professor of Journalism (Communication Law) at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. I earned my B.A. in English with a minor in sociology from Haverford College in 2009, and my Ph.D. in communications from Columbia University in 2016.

For further information, please see my CV [PDF, April 2021].