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Religion, Media, and Culture Unit

Call for Proposals

The Religion, Media, and Culture Unit invites individual presentations, paper/multimedia research presentation sessions, and roundtable proposals on the following themes:

  • Futurism, futurity, and hope
  • Media technologies and the organization of alternative economies and cooperatives
  • Social media, conflict, polarization, and democracy
  • Assessing the study of religion, media and culture: theories, methods, and boundaries of the field
  • Video games and religion
  • Religion in/on/and Tik Tok
  • Religion and technologies of surveillance, artificial intelligence, and/or biometrics

For several possible co-sponsored sessions with multiple units (RHR, RSCP, RPC, CARV, and Native Religions in the Americas), we seek papers on the theme of “Religion, Catastrophe, and Violence.” Proposals may address any of the following topics:

Catastrophe, Apocalypse, and Human Rights (Co-sponsored between Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence, Religion, Media, and Culture, and Religions, Social Conflict, and Peace Units)

We seek proposals that address religious thought and practice, and human rights concerns, in these areas:

  • Violations of human rights during a catastrophe or “state of emergency,” or the wholesale setting aside of human rights norms in a (real or imagined) catastrophe or state of emergency
  • Representation of apocalyptic or catastrophic settings, often with religious overtones or religiously-inflected, in media and popular culture (film, literature), and depictions of human rights protection (or lack thereof) in such settings
  • The religious resonances of manufactured or imagined apocalypse, and the call to defend” a particular group or social order from an apocalyptic threat; examples might include conspiracy theories against immigrant or minority groups, such as the racist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory; and catastrophizing of the actions of oppressed groups in their search for equality, such as the characterization of largely peaceful racial justice protests as “burning down cities”

 

Religion, Ecocide, and Climate Catastrophe (Co-sponsorship between Native Traditions in the Americas, Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence, Religion, Media, and Culture, Religion and Human Rights, and Religion and Politics, and Religions, Social Conflict, and Peace Units)

We invite proposals that investigate how violence and religion intersect in the environmental injustice of climate catastrophe, including increased intensity of weather events, drought, fire, food insecurity, climate refugees, species extinctions and growing global gaps in access to resources needed for life and health. Specifically, we encourage papers that address:

  • the “Anthropocene” as the age of climate catastrophe and violence, with focus on the ways in which religious ideas, practices, institutions, and rituals respond to the severe anthropogenic disruptions that distinguish the Anthropocene, and with a view to the differential quality of “the human” in light of environmental injustice.
  • The Sixth Mass Extinction as an ongoing event that exemplifies, if not epitomizes, the violence of human-animal relations, human exceptionalism, and attitudes of supremacy, through the lens of religious views and practices, whether as purveyors and/or disruptors of anthropocentrism.
  • Indigenous and non-Indigenous resistance to ecocidal violence
  • The role of religion in ecocidal violence embedded in the cultures, institutions and practices of militarism, militarization, war and colonialism.
  • The role of the study of religion in the time of climate violence, in light of the fact that, as the Presidential theme states, “It seems likely that climate catastrophes—the effects of which are exacerbated by and exacerbate social inequality—will continue to transform the worlds in which we live.”

 

Social Media, Violence, and Peace Messaging (Co-sponsorship between Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence, Religion, Media, and Culture, and Religions, Social Conflict, and Peace Units)

So much has been examined in relation to social media’s role in transmitting hate and violent religious messaging. Often such bad messaging underpins exclusionary and racialized nationalist rhetoric, and often such hateful transmission is also attributed to religious illiteracy and flattening of identities into soundbites and memes. Is the inverse also correct, namely that “good” tweetable soundbites about religion also flatten religious traditions? We seek proposals that examine constructive and peace-promoting sites where religion participates constructively in social and political mobilization and justice-oriented change. Proposals may focus on any of the topics below or other further areas of relevant research and praxis:

  • Religion and mobilization on social media platforms for human rights and democracy
  • Religion and “Counter messaging” and the instrumentalization of “good religion” in the global war on terrorism
  • Hermeneutical religiopolitical subversive and prophetic work in online platforms and alternative media
  • Search engines and religious and political illiteracy at a time when all knowledge is googleable
  • Religion and political protest online and offline

RMC is committed to diversity and inclusivity. Pre-arranged panels should reflect gender and racial/ethnic diversity as well as diversity of field, method, and scholarly rank as appropriate. We strongly prefer papers that include audio/visual media and ask that proposals make use of media clear. We are also particularly interested in session proposals and presentations that break from traditional paper-reading formats. We encourage panels that propose innovative ways to develop collaborative conversation, especially those that allow for timely analysis of current events.

Statement of Purpose

This Unit provides a multidisciplinary forum for exploring the intersections between media and religion. Areas of interest include the participation of religion in digital culture, mediation of religion, the interplay between religious and media communities and between religious and media practices, and the significance of both media and religion in the transformation of religious structures and practices.

Chairs

Steering Committee Members

  • William Chavez, University of California, Santa Barbara
    1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
  • Elonda Clay, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
    1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
  • Margarita Simon Guillory, Boston University
    1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
  • Rachel Wagner, Ithaca College
    1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
  • Kayla Renee Wheeler, Xavier University
    1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022

Method

PAPERS

Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members