Call for Papers: Mediating Religion Network Panel on Media, Religion and In/Vulnerability

4 September 2013 - 6 September 2013
SOAS, London

Proposed Panel at CRESC Annual Conference

CRESC’s Mediating Religion Network Panel in collaboration with the Religion and Media Working Group of the European Communication Research and Educational Association (ECREA) and the Nordic Network for Media and Religion.

The Mediating Religion Network invites proposals for papers on the topic of “Media, Religion and In/vulnerability”. The Network aims to contribute several panel sessions at the 2013 Annual Conference of the Centre for Research into Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC). This year’s CRESC conference title is In/vulnerabilities and Social Change: Precarious Lives and Experimental Knowledge, and we are convinced that scholars of religion and media can make a valuable contribution to academic discussion of this important theme. The Mediating Religion Network hopes to publish these presentations as a special issue of a peer-reviewed academic journal.

The CRESC Annual Conference Call for Papers

The conference focuses on “the relationship between vulnerability and invulnerability”, including the precarious lives of the majority and the precarious knowledge and status of religious, political and media elites.

Religion and media constitute intertwined sites and occasions for the formation of social relations and connectivities marked by persistent and novel vulnerabilities and invulnerabilities. But what are the conditions that make such relations and connectivities on the one hand durable, strong and powerful or on the other, vulnerable, precarious and risky?

Vulnerability is always associated with constructions of risk, and the twin structures of blame and trust. Taking a leading note from one of the keynote speakers at this year’s conference, T.H.Eriksen who will revisit the work of Mary Douglas on Risk and Blame, the panel will examine the in/vulnerabilities of religious groups, institutions and practices, and their knowledge, values and beliefs in different parts of the world. We will examine structures of blame and trust propagated by media and/or religious groups, and their role in exacerbating conflict or promoting peaceful resolution. We invite analyses of projects and initiatives aimed at building trust and/or that explore forms of social resilience, organisation and experimentation (including via uses of media) in the face of the multiple vulnerabilities associated with faith-based exclusions, persecution, abuse and conflict.

Contributions may take historical and/or ethnographic perspectives and may approach the concept of media broadly to include either a direct focus on specific media (e.g., print or digital) and religion (e.g., religious broadcasting) or a wider theoretical focus on mediation as a problematic of social theory in which religion and its (in)vulnerability to processes of rapid social change is a recurring question.

Specific topics could include:

  • Migration, Diaspora and Identities: What kinds of vulnerabilities are religious groups exposed to as a result of migration and living in diaspora? How are media used to strengthen or to weaken diasporic religious identities, networks and practices? How are narratives of blame or trust, prejudice or persecution directed at religious and non-religious groups represented, promoted or contested?
  • Transitions Across Media and Public Spaces: What kinds of in/vulnerabilities do religious groups experience as they embark on transitions from occupying (often marginalised) diasporic public spheres/spaces into more mainstream public spheres? How do religious ideas and organisations make the transition into the public spotlight following blameworthy allegations of fundamentalism, corruption, sexual abuse and how does this alter understandings or involve risks? Are some religious groups more invulnerable than others in these transitions, and if so, what kind of social and cultural capital is involved in tackling blame and establishing trust?
  • Authority and Power: How do print, electronic and digital media strengthen or undermine religious structures of control? How are threats, risks and dangers associated with religion represented and mediated? Who/what is represented as blameworthy or trustworthy?
  • Knowledge and Memory: How do religious communities use media to (re)construct their past and future and address issues of risk, blame and trust? How are media used religiously in times of conflict, death and disaster? How do religious and non-religious media reinforce or contest “orthodox” religious knowledge? What forms of experimental knowledge are mobilised by religious groups?

Proposals for papers should include a title, a 200-word abstract and a very brief statement of the applicant’s affiliation and research interests. The panel does not require contributors to draw on either Mary Douglas or T.H. Eriksen’s ideas but we would like to keep a focus around issues of blame and trust in our explorations of in/vulnerabilities.

Submissions should be sent to Dr Tim Hutchings (CRESC Research Fellow). Feel free to contact Tim or Marie to discuss paper proposals.