Trance Mediums and New Media: Spirit Possession in the Age of Technical Reproduction

Trance Mediums and New Media: Spirit Possession in the Age of Technical Reproduction

Trance Mediums and New Media: Spirit Possession in the Age of Technical Reproduction

Trance Mediums and New Media: Spirit Possession in the Age of Technical Reproduction

Synopsis

Ongoing debates about the "return of religion" have paid little attention to the orgiastic and enthusiastic qualities of religiosity, despite a significant increase in the use of techniques of trance and possession around the globe. Likewise, research on religion and media has neglected thefact that historically the rise of mediumship and spirit possession was closely linked to the development of new media of communication.This innovative volume brings together a wide range of ethnographic studies on local spiritual and media practices. Recognizing that processes of globalization are shaped by mass mediation, the volume raises questions such as: How are media like photography, cinema, video, the telephone, ortelevision integrated in seances and healing rituals? How do spirit mediums connect with these media? Why are certain technical media shunned in these contexts?

Excerpt

Heike Behrend and Martin Zillinger

For more than two decades, scholars have discussed the “return of the religious,” a development that has taken place on a global level and that deeply questions the narratives of modernity and its disenchantment (De Vries and Weber 2001). Responding to the forces of globalization, the neoliberal elimination of restraints on market forces, the decline of states, and the rise of new media, political theologies have emerged that intensely counter the Western idea of the separation of church and state and the concept of religion as a private individual matter.

The return of the religious opened up an intense debate among academics of different disciplines, including philosophy, religious studies, anthropology, and political science, about the quality and substance of religion, its mediation in new technical media, and the experiences of alterity induced through new media in the context of the processes of globalization. At the same time, new light has been shed on media and mediation by dealing with religion as media (Meyer 2009; Stolow 2005). By introducing religion into the study of media and media into the study of religion, mediation comes into focus as process and form of making meaning (Morgan 2008) and therefore deepens our insight into the configuration of media as media practices (Klassen 2008), drawing from and developing further ethnographic inquiries into situated media use. (See Spitulnik 2002.) . . .

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