ISMRC Conference features Digital Religion Research

The Center for Media, Religion and Culture and the College of Media, Communication and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder are hosting the 11th biennial conference of the International Society for Media, Religion and Culture (ISMRC). Since ISMRC’s first meeting in 1994, the conference has become the leading international meeting for the discussion of research in religion, media and culture. ISMRC’s objective is to explore the relationship between media, religion and public scholarship. This conference will take place August 8 -11, 2018. Additionally, there will be a workshop for PhD students on August 7. After the conference concludes, the International Academy for the Study of Religion and Video Gaming (IASGAR) is hosting a post conference event on August 12.

ISMRC will have many talented scholars, as well as 3 Keynote and Plenary Speakers including Anthea Butler (University of Pennsylvania), Merlyna Lim (Carleton University) and John Durham Peters (Yale Univeristy). There will be a very diverse group of 142 presenters from 20 different countries. ISMRC is fortunate to be sponsored by the Center for Media, Religion and Culture, the College of Media, Communication and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder, Henry Luce Foundation, ILIFF School of Theology – Denver and Brill Publishing.

The conference will have over 40 panels with discussions focused on numerous paper themes. The most evident theme in these papers is the themes of new media and digital religion. New media and digital religion are the most focused on topics during the conference, with 58 papers discussing them as a major theme. Following that are themes of (from most to least) religious controversy, politics, feminist culture, religious movements, theology, health and media theory. Since new media is a very large theme for ISMRC, there are many technologies and media forms examined (from most to least) such as social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), television and film, journalism, religious apps, video games, photography, music and the internet. Additionally, religion is a heavily studied topic at the conference, diving into religions including (from most to least), Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, Mormonism, Buddhism and other local religions.

Since new media and digital religion are such prominent topics at ISMRC, let’s dive into further analysis on them. New media is a form of mass communication that uses digital technology. New media also entails mediatization which is a theory that explains how digital media can shape the conversation of society. In these papers, new media is used to help explain the shift in ideologies, religious practices and leadership. As well as new media, these papers address digital religion. Digital religion considers how religious communities interact with the internet and how one’s religion can be exemplified through the digital world. Digital religion encompasses both the offline culture, such as the historical belief system, as well as encompassing the online culture of religious followers interacting and conversing on digital platforms. These papers address general topics including, digital religious movements (29 papers), religious controversies on the internet (20 papers), how/if digital religion and theology can converge (16 papers), and how digital devices can change the way one practices their religion (10 papers).

In conclusion, the 11th biennial ISMRC will be a great place to explore the relationship between media, religion and public scholarship, so if you’re lucky enough to go, take advantage of all that it has to offer!