The cityscape of Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, is dominated by two houses of worship known as the National Mosque and the National Church. Facing each other in the heart of the city, these impressive architectural monuments symbolize the crucial place of organized religion in the postcolonial Nigerian state’s efforts at forging a unified national public. The national population of 160 million is notoriously heterogeneous, comprising hundreds of languages, ethnicities, and so-called “traditional” religious and political institutions. For political and rhetorical expediency, this diversity is often reduced to the country’s 36 states, 6 geopolitical zones, and 3 majority languages (plus English). But the Muslim/Christian dichotomy is arguably the central organizing trope in contemporary discourses of Nigerian nationhood.
Posts Tagged ‘media’
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died shortly before the 2012 Meskel festival, the Finding of the True Cross—one of the major festivals of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Its public centerpiece is the burning of a great bonfire in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square, which takes its name from the occasion. State television broadcasts the ceremony every year, and the 2012 broadcast (2005 by the Ethiopian calendar) can be found on YouTube. The festival revolves around the bonfire, recalling the smoke that led Constantine’s mother Saint Helena to the recovery of Christ’s cross. On this occasion a kitsch re-enactment of the story precedes the lighting of the fire, as Helena and her entourage parade the cross, decked with fairy lights, on a carnival float [4:50-5:20]. Overlooking the whole event, and clearly visible as the fire burns, are several billboards depicting the recently deceased Prime Minister. One reads: “We will keep our word and fulfill your vision.” The religious connotations of the Ge’ez word ra’iy, “vision,” are presumably intentional.
Starting last week, atheists and nonbelievers everywhere now have a new station to add to their television lineup: Atheist TV.
The recent media buzz stirred up by a sad story captures well the sense of uneasiness pervading Quebec since the ruling Parti Québécois (PQ) began working to implement a bill known as the “Charter of Quebec Values,” which would ban state employees from wearing “conspicuous religious symbols.”
The Center for Media, Religion, and Culture will hold its fifth annual conference on Media and Religion: The Global View in January 2014.
In honor of the International AIDS Conference that will take place in Washington, D.C. later this month, Diane Winston, a member of the SSRC New Directions in the Study of Prayer Advisory Committee) contributed an essay to Religion Dispatches on the change in mainstream attitudes towards the LGBT community in response to the AIDS epidemic.
“Of Miracles and Machines: A Symposium on Derrida and Religion” will take place Thursday, March 22, at Fordham University, New York, NY.
If the medium is the message, then what can we make of digitized religious texts? In The New Yorker, Macy Halford explores the implications of media and technology for religion.
Forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, a “pioneering account of religion and society in nineteenth-century America” by John Lardas Modern, contributing editor at The Immanent Frame and co-curator (with Kathryn Lofton) of the recently launched Frequencies.
Two writers at the The Guardian enter into the conversation about this year’s World Youth Day and the public reaction that accompanied Pope Benedict’s visit to Madrid. Andrew Brown asks why the public appears not to recognize the Church’s accomplishment, citing the role of the media in creating a narrow narrative of the event, while Miguel-Anxo Murado turns the discussion to politics, claiming that the protests were perhaps not as successful as it may have appeared.
Not long after his return from Cairo, where he was doing fieldwork, I spoke with Talal Asad at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, where he is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology. Distinguished indeed: with books like Genealogies of Religion and Formations of the Secular, as well as numerous articles, Asad’s work has been formative for current scholarly conversation about religion and secularity, stressing both global context and the ways in which their interaction has been shaped by local histories, in the West and the Middle East. Most recently, he co-authored (along with Wendy Brown, Saba Mahmood, and Judith Butler) Is Critique Secular? (University of California Press, 2009) and contributed a chapter to the just published SSRC volume Rethinking Secularism (Oxford University Press, 2011).
In light of Hasidic 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky’s recent murder, as well as The New York Times’ inclusion of “some of the blunt theological language of the funeral…without any kind of context and/or clarification from other Hasidic believers and outside experts,” Getreligion discusses the implications and delicacy of reporting on religious affairs.
Courtney Bender discusses the controversial ballot measure to prohibit circumcision of males under eighteen years of age, which will be up for a vote in San Francisco in November.
For a brief moment in 2007, news of a hit Iranian television series, whose Farsi title was translated variously as Zero Degree Turn or Zero Point Orbit, proliferated across the print and digital mediascapes of the Anglophone world. The series, created by Iranian director Hassan Fathi at great expense and broadcast in a thirty-episode season on the flagship state television station IRIB1, revolves around a Romeo and Juliet plot of illicit romance, with a distinctive twist: while the proverbial Romeo is one Habib Parsa (played by Iranian hearthrob Shahab Hosseini), a Muslim Iranian pursuing his studies in France, his Juliet is none other than a Jewish classmate, Sarah Astrok (played by the French actress Nathalie Matti), with whom he falls in love.
A new grants program for journalists, sponsored by the Knight Program at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism:
Knight Grants for Reporting on Religion and American Public Life, sponsored by the Knight Program at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, provides funding for projects that explore how religion — morals, values, spirituality and the search for meaning — shapes responses to social issues, including housing, health care, poverty, sexuality, immigration, economic equity, and civil rights in the US.
Last month, conservative trickster James O’Keefe caught NPR fundraising executive Ron Schiller saying this: “The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian—I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of move.” Yesterday, these secretly-taped remarks were made public, leading to the resignation of both Schiller and NPR CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation).
David Remnick, in The New Yorker, profiles Amos Schocken, the prickly but principled (albeit ideologically nonconformist) publisher of Haaretz, which, though long seen—by its own staff as much as its readers—as the conscience of Israeli society, shares with the state itself an increasingly uncertain future.
News organizations reporting on Egypt in the last two and half weeks have repeatedly raised the specter of the Muslim Brotherhood taking over the government in the absence of an organized secular opposition. At the same time, most have been at pains to point out that the protests for reform represent a granular, grassroots movement, largely “secular” in its orientation. The narrative hook of the story is therefore the danger of a secular movement being taken over by more fundamentalist Muslims if the transition is not orderly, or if it is managed incorrectly. The problem with this story, of course, is that the vast majority of Egyptians, those in Tahrir Square and elsewhere, would not describe themselves as secular in any meaningful sense.
As I noted in August, one in five Americans mistakenly believes that President Obama is secretly a Muslim. Yet more disconcerting than the fact that this propaganda has been so widely disseminated, is that one of Obama’s most recent strategies for combating the problem is simply giving in.
Over a week since the conclusion of PBS’s three-night, six-hour television event God in America, new commentary on the documentary continues to appear online.
At Religion in American History, Edward J. Blum reflects on how blogging may influence a junior scholar’s career, for better or for worse, and raises several important questions that we have also been puzzling about here at The Immanent Frame. In his piece, he draws on his own experiences as well as anecdotal evidence, and lays out his reservations about the academic blogging enterprise.
In her Washington Post opinion column, The Spirited Atheist, Susan Jacoby reflects upon the “billions of words” published in newspapers, blogs, and articles about Obama’s religion, arguing that “there is nothing ordinary, or traditional in American politics, about subjecting a president’s private faith to this kind of scrutiny.”
Before the liberalization of broadcasting in Turkey, the state-owned broadcaster TRT considered Islam a “religion” that could be represented only in a limited, privatized form, rather than a way of life regulated by traditions and practices. However, the transformation of the political scene as well as the liberalization of the media industry in the 1990s have contributed to the reconfiguration of the concept of “religion” and its representation on TV.
New York Times film critic Jeannette Catsoulis reviews “A Film Unfinished,” an analysis of the unfinished Nazi Propaganda “Das Ghetto” revealing “vivid insight into the restrictions of daily life and the methods of the Nazi filmmakers.”
On July 13, 2010, Glenn Beck made liberation theology—and especially Black Theology—the subject of his televised program. The real subject of his complaint was twofold: liberation theology is “a perversion of God” that mistakes Marxism for the plain meaning of the Gospels, which, for Beck, are self-evidently about individual salvation, and liberation theology does away with the language of merit, convincing the down-and-out that they are victims deserving of a handout instead of hard work. The inconsistencies of this message, along with Beck’s misreading and simplification of the various complex traditions of Christian liberation theology have not gone unnoticed in rebuttals and reprisals.
Haiti has always suffered from a plight of representation: “Black France” for Jules Michelet, “a tropical dog-kennel” for Thomas Carlyle, Haiti forced imagination high and low. For V.S. Naipaul, a later connoisseur of caricature, the “desert of Haiti” is the source of the “nothing” that he claims as a West Indian legacy. In their coverage of the earthquake, the media represented Haiti as a passive, neutered object of disaster, with no history, no culture, nothing except images of rubble, pain, dirt, and misery. How did the news dare to show piles of bodies being bulldozed into mass graves after the earthquake? To talk about the smell of urine? To focus on women in postures that could only be called abject? What do the representations of Haiti tell us about the force of metaphor? And why are these metaphors so crucial to North Americans? What is a metaphor a metaphor for?
Jeremy Stolow’s Orthodox by Design: Judaism, Print Politics and the ArtScroll Revolution will be published next month by University of California Press.
As older forms of communication begin to cede their exclusive hold on the public’s attention, it becomes all the more urgent to ask what newer forms stand to offer and what challenges they pose, not least because these burgeoning media are modifying and adapting themselves at unprecedented rates. In this context, a newly released SSRC report explores the “new landscape of the religion blogosphere,” mapping out its contours, presenting the voices of some of its bloggers, and asking what new possibilities blogging might represent for public and academic conversations about religion. In conjunction with the release of this report, we asked a number of bloggers, journalists, and scholars how blogs and new media have altered academic and public discussions of religion. Now, we ask another group of thinkers: how are new media—from blogs and social networking sites to mobile technologies and other forms of digital connection—shaping and reshaping the practice of religion?
It’s no longer news that digital media are changing how knowledge is produced and disseminated, and how people relate to one another more broadly. This is so in the case of religion as much as any other. As older forms of communication begin to cede their exclusive hold on the public’s attention, it becomes all the more urgent to ask what newer forms stand to offer and what challenges they pose, not least because these burgeoning media are modifying and adapting themselves at unprecedented rates. In this context, a newly released SSRC report explores the “new landscape of the religion blogosphere,” mapping out its contours, presenting the voices of some of its bloggers, and asking what new possibilities blogging might represent for public and academic conversations about religion. In conjunction with the release of this report, we’ve asked a number of bloggers, journalists and scholars: how are blogs and new media changing both academic and public discussions of religion?
At Trans/Missions, Diane Winston comments on an unusual and interesting new study, which finds that the most popular New York Times pieces tend to be “articles that elicit an emotional sense of awe.”
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat argues that “the debate that Brit Hume kicked off a week ago is still worth having. Indeed, it’s the most important one there is.”
Today we are once more at a time when lawless violence proliferates and territorial boundaries are infringed upon, when state leaders invoke “non-state actors” and argue for the need to respond in kind. Are new political formations taking shape in our midst, even as we defend the old order?
Whatever the global elements involved in these brutal events, from militant methods to media coverage, crucial is the fact that they were plugged into a local history of religious violence in Mumbai and elsewhere in the country, if only to scramble and so utterly transform this past.
The East Coast media establishment—both “conservatives” and “liberals”—continue to ask the same question about Senator Barack Obama: why did he keep his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ, where the Reverend Jeremiah Wright was the pastor? The question is asked as though Obama is naïve and Wright is a madman, neither of which is true. But what I find rather more amusing, or perhaps alarming—at least from a religious perspective—is that most of the media personalities who ask this question appear to have never belonged to any kind of religious community themselves. And this is, to a large extent, why there is so much misunderstanding about the relationship between Obama and Wright. […]
Benazir Bhutto was my classmate at Oxford in the 1970s. That is not the opening sentence of a feel-good encomium to cosmopolitanism. Nor is it the start of a personal reminiscence or statement of regret, though I am sad. It is a small note of personal connection to the growing political tragedy in Pakistan. What follows is a reflection on that tragedy. It is also a warning to those who would think their personal connections offer adequate bases for understanding an ever more integrated but deeply troubled world and a plea for pursuing necessary knowledge. […]