Religion and media in twentieth-century Africa: changing forms of literacy and orality, changing publics and subjectivities; the making and contestation of sacred texts and religious performance.
This panel proposal is inspired by recent scholarship that examines the intersection between forms of communication and the growth of new religious constituencies. It seeks to further pursue these insights in the context of twentieth century Africa. We are particularly interested in how media practices enabled, shaped, and limited forms of claims-making by relatively marginal individuals and groups in religious contexts. The media focus covers both 'old' (including handwriting and print technologies) and 'new' (including the internet) forms. We expect to focus on papers that explore media history and practice with reference to religious contexts or content, but will consider studies where the religious aspect of media use is one among several. Relevant themes include, but are not be limited to: • The creation of publics - religious and otherwise - in interaction with various forms of old and new media • Making and contesting sacred texts • Literacy as a 'bundle of traits' with varying social and religious implications • An attention to genre, and narrative conventions • Text and healing - the materiality of media • The uses of 'secondary' literacy in post-colonial Africa • Media and performance - especially the performance of violence • Official/authorised (rather than subversive) media performances and the establishment of religious orthodoxies • Orality and 'authenticity', eg invoking nativism • Preaching and the public sphere • Women in the media; women's media practices • Institutional and financial contexts shaping media practices • Media use and new/emergent subjectivities, including religious disciplines of the self