Recent Posts

March 24th, 2015

A modest defense of the listicle

posted by Patton Dodd

If, as Umberto Eco tells it, “the list is the origin of culture,” then the Internet may be culture’s apotheosis. So much of the web comes to us in list form. Google searches render lists of results; we scroll all the livelong day (and night) through lists of updates on Twitter and Facebook; news sites like The New York Times and Vox highlight lists of their most popular stories. Blogs are lists of posts; Instagram is a list of images; Reddit is a hive-minded collection of conversations and digital artifacts presented as lists. Even the Bible, on the Internet, morphs into a list—the popular app YouVersion, which has been downloaded over 170 million times, essentially understands (as a matter of its coding) the Bible not as a book or series of books but as a list of 31,102 verses.

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March 20th, 2015

Religion for commoners

posted by Nathan Schneider

March 3rd, 2015

Give me that digital religion

posted by Kathryn Reklis

February 24th, 2015

Anatomy of a tweet

posted by Negar Mottahedeh

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March 27th, 2015

Is ISIS Islamic? Why it matters for the study of Islam

posted by Anver Emon

Recent months have witnessed considerable angst in the academy over what is and isn’t Islam(ic). Spurred by events from the attacks in Paris to Graeme Wood’s Atlantic article on ISIS, scholars of Islam have agonized over whether and how to apply the label “Islamic” or “Muslim” to characterize recent events. Reviewing various commentaries, there is a limited range of arguments that, by proffering competing positivist accounts of the Islamic, thereby play into a climate of moral panic about the threat Islam poses to domestic and international orders. By playing into the moral panic, such arguments, in the aggregate, preclude both critical interrogation of the scholarly production on Islam and Muslims and reflection on the possible contribution Islamic studies can make to advanced research more broadly.

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March 20th, 2015

Religion for commoners

posted by Nathan Schneider

One of the essential early texts of the open source software movement was “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” a 1999 essay by programmer Eric S. Raymond in which he juxtaposes two approaches to developing computer programs, each with an analogy to a fixture of the medieval city: from the top down, like a cathedral, and from the bottom up, like a street market. At the time, open source software development was still largely characterized by a command-and-control (top down) process; Raymond advocated a more bottom-up method. He understood the bazaar (contra Clifford Geertz) as representing a way of harnessing collective intelligence toward collective ends: share the code with the world, and the world will fix its bugs in no time. Partly as a result of Raymond’s essay, the code underlying Netscape went open source, and the community-maintained Firefox browser was born. Much of the Internet—from Linux servers to Android phones—now runs on bazaar-style software.

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The state of religion in China

This discussion brings together scholars to understand the relationship between the state and religion in China—past, present, and future.

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Saving Sex

Amy DeRogatis’ new book documents how American evangelicals talk about sex and sexuality, and how sexual practice is used as a marker of distinction from “secular” American culture.

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American civil religion in the age of Obama

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