CFP for ICA preconference on Media and Religion

The Philosophy, Theory and Critique Division of the International Communication Association is sponsoring a pre-conference entitled “Media and Religion”: Betwixt and Between. The event will be held 22 May 2014, 9:00 AM - 5 PM at Thomas Hall in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. A call for papers has also been issued soliciting papers for this event.

“Media and religion” is a phrase used to describe a growing cross-disciplinary field of research. Communication scholars have noted interesting social and cultural implications of the intersection of media and religion on several levels. This includes acknowledging how communication processes within media and religious practice often point to a ritualization of communication, drawing attention to acts of witnessing and confession in media cultures. There is also recognition by scholar that media and religion highlights an important intersection of cultural and social imaginations, where media creates and informs deep feelings of social belonging. Against this background, it is not surprising that the intersection of religion and media is attracting research attention, especially in regards to the mediatization of religion and the proliferation of mediated religion.

Given the complexity of the relationship between media and religion, we advocate moving beyond the simple questions of “How is religion represented in the media?” and “How to religions use media to promote their cause?” to consider broader and deeper theoretical investigations of this evolving interplay. We suggest media may evoke and create a sense of wonder, transcendence, and flow, which in many ways approach experiences often assigned to the religious realm. To put it with Victor Turner’s classical essay on liminality: Religious media events, as well as media as a religious event, call into question simplistic social ontologies by being “betwixt and between” purely religious and purely media contexts.

This preconference seeks to bring into conversation a variety of approaches common within the study of media, religion and culture, in order to showcase the diverse perspectives scholars of Communication have taken in the study of this interrelationship. The goal of the preconference is to spotlight current scholarly methods within media and religion studies in order to highlight key theoretical concepts and problems – both for those working in the field, and for those who wish to gain first-hand insight into this area of Communication research. Through papers, panel presentations and shared conversation amongst participants this event aims is to draw scholarly attention to the relationship between media, religion and culture in its multiple intersections.

The preconference will consist of a morning session featuring two keynote panels of recognized scholars whose work intersects with the field of media and religion. The afternoon will involve two parallel panels of papers selected from abstract submissions, and a closing summary panel. Invited and confirmed speakers/respondents include Menachem Blondheim, Hebrew University; Nick Couldry, Goldsmiths University of London; Stig Hjarvard, University of Copenhagen; Stewart M. Hoover, University of Colorado-Boulder; Knut Lundby, University of Oslo and Paddy Scannell, University of Michigan.

Paper proposals are sought for the afternoon sessions on themes related to the study of media and religion. Of special interest are papers which sketch out new cross-disciplinary connections, methods and theoretical approaches to this intersection. Possible themes for paper considered for the pre-conference includes research which reflects on:

- Media as a site for religious practice and performance
- The mediatization of religion
- Religion and media as cultural technologies
- Media communication as a conduit for understanding and peace
- Religious media as mediating religion
- Media as Ritual

Paper submissions are welcome from scholars at all stages of their career working in a variety of discipline that intersect with the study of media, religion and culture. Abstracts of 500 words (maximum) should be submitted along with a brief biographical statement no later than 15 December 2013. Abstract should be submitted to Heidi Campbell at Submissions will be judged by peer evaluation. Authors will be informed regarding acceptance/rejection for the preconference in mid February 2014.

The preconference is sponsored by the Jackson School of International Studies and Department of Communication at the University of Washington and supported by the Media and Religion Temporary Working Group of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) and The International Society for Media, Religion, and Culture.

Co-Convenors: Heidi Campbell, Texas A&M University, USA and Günter Thomas, Faculty for Protestant Theology-Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany