ICA Preconference

ICA Paris Pre Conference 2022, 26 May 9-17

The Secular and/or Religious Nature of Technologies: Exploring the Boundaries of Human Communication in a Networked World

This preconference will explore how we conceive of communication technologies in a global, networked world and the implications such perceptions have for human communication and the social relationships created and maintained in these human-technology encounters.

Specifically, our focus is on the secular and/or religious traces and implications of technology. We investigate what kinds of secular and/or religious ideas are implied in our human-technology relationships and how they shape the ways in which we build and maintain social relationships between humans and technologies in different historical and cultural contexts. We also are interested in exploring the ethical discourses inspired by secular and/or religious thinking that are embedded in the current developments of communication technology, namely AI and robotics.

This preconference starts with the premise that when we think of technologies we often are drawn to narratives of the Enlightenment and (Western) modernity. This history typically is framed as a victory of technology as a product of rational science over myth, religion, and ritual, and hence, secular by nature. From this perspective, religious actors and communities are perceived as averse to technological innovation and wary of technological tools. However, scholars of (global) history of media and communication argue for a multilayered and complex relationship between religion and communication technology, a notion that challenges modern, Western ideas of technology as secular. Examples including the invention of the printing press and its subsequent role in religious literacy or the spread of televangelism in the age of mass media illustrate early and modern uses of technology in religious contexts make our point.


9 am 

Opening: Stewart Hoover

Panel I: The Secular and the Religious in Digital Communication

Chair: Corrina Laughlin
Moderator: Kristin Peterson

Berg, Anton & Valaskivi, Katja: Almighty Technology in Era of Ecological Crisis: How does the movie Don’t Look Up challenge technologism?

Anderson, LaRisa: The Shadow of Category: Critically Engaging the Study of Religion in Technoculture

Nord, Ilona, Wienrich, Caroline, Gronover, Matthias, Trefzger, Thomas, Hurtienne, Jörn:  The Benefit of Religious Literacy on Sovereignty for Human Technology Interaction

Lövheim, Mia & Jensdotter, Linnea: Banal Religion, Secularity and National Identity in Hybrid Media Spaces


Keynote Session: Ethics, Spirituality and Social Impact of Technology in a Networked World

Chair: Johanna Sumiala

Zizi Papacharissi, University of Illinois Chicago, USA

Oliver Krüger, Fribourg University, Switzerland

Sam Han, The University of Western Australia


15:00-17:00Parallel Panels

Panel II (online): Digital Media and Religion – Institutional Transformations
Moderator: Jenna Supp-Montgomerie

Mahjouba, Kaoukaou: Secular Perceptions and Attitudes in the ‘Presumptive’ Islamic Digital Spaces: From the Safe Havens to Intellectual Banditry

Tsuria, Ruth: Holy Rocks and Secular Bits

Urso, Maria-Antonia: Infrastructure Made Canon: An Analysis of ‘Doppel Paths’ in the History of Catholicism

Sweet, Julia & Vitaly Vasiliev: Digitized Worship and Authentic Spirituality at the Orthodox Church During the Covid Pandemic: Urban vs Rural Perspectives

Kazkaz, Lana & Diez Bosch, Miriam: Islamic Cartoons and the Maintenance of Journalistic Ideology from the Perspective of Arab Opinion Leaders

Panel III (in person): Digital Spaces: Rituals, Witnessing and the Sacred 

Chattopadhyay, Arkaprava: The Metamorphosis of Religious Rituals through Digital Innovations: A Study of Purulia Chhau

Rajabi, Samira: Celebrity Pregnancy Loss and the Everyday User: Digital Religious-like Testimony and Self-making on Twitter

Aygun, Talia: Mourning the Missing: How Sensework (Re)imagines the Disappeared Body

White, Christopher, G: Online Ghost Videos & Sensations of Sacred Presence

Šisler, Vit: Clusters and Advisors: Normalized Social Distance Analysis of Islamic Sites on Facebook