Religions and Technologies
Throughout most of the history of the study of religion, there has been a latent tendency among scholars to see religion and technology as not just separate phenomena, but sometimes as mutually antagonistic. Nevertheless, in recent decades, scholars have advanced a more nuanced understanding of this relationship, depending on which particular aspects are being considered.
For instance, when considering religion as a practice, one discovers that religious institutions and individuals have used a wide range of technologies since ancient times, including printing and writing to preserve teachings, time-measurement devices and astronomical knowledge to determine the correct ritual time, and, of course, complex ritual actions to attract followers and engage natural and supernatural forces.
These precedents illustrate the complexity of the relationship between religion and technology, a relationship which encompasses not just technology in its material sense, but techniques such as knowledge organization and the specific methods needed to achieve particular ends. In addition to the way in which technology affects religious practices, their spread, and religious dialogue, new technology underlying communications and the social and digital spheres facilitates the systematization of religious data, making religions more accessible to academic study than ever before.
Thus, what we can state about the relationship of religion and technology is not their separation or antagonism but their entanglement, which calls us to take into account how technology and religion have co-evolved in the past, consider which are the critical engagements of religion with technology today, and imagine how they could develop in the future. Considering all of the above, the theme of this year’s EASR conference encourages participants to present and discuss any aspect relating to religion and technology in the broadest sense, e.g.
- The concepts and connotations of technology across various religions.
- Discussing how religions have viewed and treated technology historically and more recently.
- The relationship between religion as practice and theory, or religion and science, including their interactions, conflicts, or other types of interactions;
- Investigating esoteric, magical, or other religious practices as techniques.
- Reflecting the spread and practice of religion via technology. The ways in which religions invent, adopt, and adapt technological innovations, including communication technologies and new media.
- Understanding religion through the lens of concepts associated with social technologies, technological knowledge, etc.
- The use of technologies and techniques in religious studies. Studying religion in the digital age: advances in the digital humanities and beyond. The ways in which existing technologies and their notions influence the study of religion.