Media and Religion in (Post)Colonial Societies: Dynamics of Power and Resistance Editorial

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Stefanie Knauss
Philippe Bornet
Alexander Darius Ornella


Media and religion (broadly conceived) are often cooperating as the backdrop, and at the forefront of power struggles, in dominant and subaltern narratives, conflict and protest. Religious practices are visual and material practices that communicate meaning, and media thrive on harnessing the cognitive and affective power of religious symbols or narratives. Many media producers draw on the ability of religions, as communicative systems, to distill human experience and to create particularly powerful structures of affect. The intricate and dynamic relationships between media and religion are part of the cultural efforts of inscribing and embodying meaning on an individual and collective level, and thus to turn chaos into order, to establish and communicate categories and boundaries. Thus in this issue of JRFM, we focus on how religion and media participate in and complicate the power relationships between (western) colonizers and (non-western) colonized during the historical period of colonialism and in “coloniality”, a term introduced by Aníbal Quijano to describe the ways in which colonial dynamics of othering and difference, as well as western epistemologies continue to shape the cultural, economic, political, and religious forces within and between communities.

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Author Biographies

Stefanie Knauss, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Villanova University

Stefanie Knauss is Associate Professor of Theology and Culture at Villanova University (USA). Her research focuses on theology and culture, body and religion, and gender/queer studies and theology. Recent publications: Religion and Film: Representation, Experience, Meaning (Brill, 2020); and the co-authored volume, Sichtbare Religion: Eine Einführung in die Religionswissenschaft (Berlin, 2018).

Philippe Bornet, University of Lausanne

Philippe Bornet is senior lecturer at the University of Lausanne, in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. After stays in Tübingen and at the University of Chicago, he completed a PhD in the comparative history of religions on rituals of hospitality in Jewish and Indian texts. His current research deals with the study of comparison as a method, the history of interactions between India and Europe, with a focus on Swiss missionaries in South India, and the circulation of material and visual cultures. Recent publications include Religions in Play (2012) (ed. with M. Burger), "Masters" and "Natives": Digging the Others' Past (2019) (ed. with S. Gorshenina) and Translocal Lives and Religion: Connections between Asia and Europe in Late Modernity (2021).

Alexander Darius Ornella, University of Hull

Alexander Darius Ornella is Senior Lecturer in Religion at the School of Social Sciences, University of Hull (UK). He is also the Director of the Center for Spirituality Studies at the University of Hull. Ornella received his doctorate in Catholic Theology from the University of Graz (Austria) in 2007. His research interests include: religion and popular culture; the sport of CrossFit, meaning-making, and religion; body and technology and religion. His recent publications include 'Why nature won't save us from climate change but technology will': Creating a New Heaven and a New Earth Through Carbon Capture Technologies (2021) and Sport as Bodily Practice of Remembrance: Remembering Heroes, Remembering Nations (2020).