By Chris Cantwell
Interest in the study of what many call "digital religion"--or, more creatively, #DigitalReligion--has grown substantially over the last few years. Scholars, journalists, and even religious leaders are increasingly asking how digital technology is not only shaping the study of religion past and present, but also the very production of religion in a digital age. The last month has seen a number of new developments related to this emerging trend.
ITHAKA S+R, the research arm of the non-profit that brought you JSTOR, has begun convening a number of meetings related to the writing of a major report documenting the changing research practices of religious studies scholars. The principle investigators have an admirably capacious definition of the field, which should benefit the scope of the report's findings. Late last month they announced an impressive list of participating institutions. Keep an eye out for the final product on S+R's blog.
And in another recent announcement, New York University's Center for Religion and Media just posted that they received a second round of funding from the Henry R. Luce Foundation to continue developing a series of interdisciplinary conversations on the study of religion in a digital age. The funding supports a number of one-year postdocs for scholars interested in writing about religion for a wider audience by contributing to the publication of the Center's longstanding web magazine The Revealer. Interested applicants can find information on the postdocs here.
Hussein Rashid and I authored for the Social Science Research Council on the study of religion's digital futures titled Religion, Media, and the Digital Turn, was also published last month. Of course, this partially a shameless piece of self promotion. But I wanted to announce the report's release because in many ways it was a collaborative endeavor. Hussein and I surveyed over a hundred and fifty digital projects in the study of religion and talked to nearly two dozen project directors--many of them friends of the blog--in researching the piece. So while Hussein and I may have authored the report, it is really more of a narrative map of so much of the exciting work going on in the field today.
And from these other announcements, it sounds like there will be lots of exciting work to come as well!