Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kyoto Lectures: Bafelli on Internet and New Religions

Announcement from H-Japan

Can the Internet make religion?: Japanese New Religions online

Speaker: Erica Baffelli

The analysis of the socio-historical context of Japan in the 1980s and 1990s,  especially in relation to the terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway by members  of Aum Shinrikyo in 1995, demonstrates the vital importance of understanding  the processes by which religious groups produce meanings through the media. Indeed, the media can be incorporated into religion (i.e. the use of media devices during rituals), and religious experience can even be totally mediated through them (i.e., a leader communicating to members only through videos or, more recently, the increasing use of online rituals). In particular, the development of the so-called new media has apparently amplified the possibilities for religious groups not only to inform others about themselves, but also to create wholly novel forms of religious practice and interaction between leaders and members. This lecture will focus on the use of the Internet by so-called Japanese New Religions. More specifically, it will dwell on the  shift from official websites to what has been deemed Web 2.0 in particular, social networking services and video sharing websites.

Erica Baffelli is Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Otago (New Zealand). Both her doctoral research (Foscari University of Venice, 2005) and her post-doctoral research project as a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS, 2005-2007) investigated the relationship between the media and the image construction of Japanese New Religions. Her research interests lie primarily in the groups self-presentation, both online and offline, and in the interaction between religion and popular cultures. She is the co-editor (with Ian Reader and Birgit Staemmler) of Japanese Religions on the Internet: Innovation, Representation, and Authority (Routledge, forthcoming 2010), and she is currently working on a monograph discussing media and religion in 1980s and 1990s Japan.

Date: Thursday, December 16th, 18:00

Place: Institute for Research in Humanities (IRH), Kyoto University (seminar room, 1st floor)

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