Frederick, “Colored Television”

Frederick, Marla F.  2015.  Colored Television: American Religion Gone Global.  Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

Publisher’s Description: The presence of women and African Americans not simply as viewers, but also as televangelists and station owners in their own right has dramatically changed the face of American religious broadcasting in recent decades. Colored Television looks at the influence of these ministries beyond the United States, where complex gospels of prosperity and gospels of sexual redemption mutually inform one another while offering hopeful yet socially contested narratives of personal uplift. As an ethnography, Colored Television illuminates the phenomenal international success of American TV preachers like T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, and Juanita Bynum. Focusing particularly on Jamaica and the Caribbean, it also explores why the genre has resonated so powerfully around the world. Investigating the roles of producers, consumers, and distributors, Marla Frederick takes a unique look at the ministries, the communities they enter, and the global markets of competition that buffer them.

Bekkering, “Drag Queens and Farting Preachers”

Bekkering, Denis. 2015. Drag Queens and Farting Preachers: American Televangelism, Participatory Media, and Unfaithful Fandoms. Doctoral Dissertation, Dept. of Religious Studies. Waterloo, Canada: University of Waterloo.

Abstract: Studies of religion and fandom have generally considered sincere devotion a fundamental point of contact between the two cultural phenomena, an assumption not reflected in fan studies proper. This dissertation aims to expand the scope of research on religion and fandom by offering cultural histories of “unfaithful” fan followings of three controversial American televangelists – Robert Tilton, Tammy Faye Bakker/Messner, and Jim Bakker – dating from the 1980s to 2012, and consisting of individuals amused by, rather than religiously affiliated with, their chosen television preachers. It is argued that through their ironic, parodic, and satirical play with celebrity preachers widely believed to be religious fakes, these unfaithful fans have engaged in religious work related to personal and public negotiations of authentic Christianity. Additionally, it is demonstrated that through their activities, and in particular through their media practices, these fans have impacted the brands and mainstream representations of certain televangelists, and have provoked ministry responses including dismissal, accommodation, and counteraction.

Hackett and Soares (eds), “New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa”

Hackett, Rosalind I. J. and Benjamin F. Soares.  2014.  New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Publisher’s Description:New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa casts a critical look at Africa’s rapidly evolving religious media scene. Following political liberalization, media deregulation, and the proliferation of new media technologies, many African religious leaders and activists have appropriated such media to strengthen and expand their communities and gain public recognition. Media have also been used to marginalize and restrict the activities of other groups, which has sometimes led to tension, conflict, and even violence. Showing how media are rarely neutral vehicles of expression, the contributors to this multidisciplinary volume analyze the mutual imbrications of media and religion during times of rapid technological and social change in various places throughout Africa.

Table of Contents: Acknowledgments

Foreword
Francis B. Nyamnjoh

Introduction: New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa
Rosalind I. J. Hackett & Benjamin F. Soares

Part I. “Old” Media: Print and Radio
1. A History of Sauti ya Mvita (“Voice of Mombasa”): Radio, Public Culture, and Islam in Coastal Kenya, 1947-1966
James R. Brennan
2. Between Standardization and Pluralism: The Islamic Printing Market and its Social Spaces in Bamako, Mali
Francesco Zappa
3. Binary Islam: Media and Religious Movements in Nigeria
Brian Larkin
4. Muslim Community Radio Stations: Constructing and Shaping Identities in a Democratic South Africa
Muhammed Haron

Part II. New Media and Media Worlds
5. Mediating Transcendence: Popular Film, Visuality, and Religious Experience in West Africa
Johannes Merz
6. The Heart of Man: Pentecostalist Emotive Style in and beyond Kinshasa’s Media World
Katrien Pype
7. Islamic Communication and Mass Media in Cameroon
Hamadou Adama
8. “We Are on the Internet:” Contemporary Pentecostalism in Africa and the New Culture of Online Religion
J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu
9. Conveying Islam: Arab Islamic Satellite Channels as New Players
Ehab Galal
10. Religious Discourse in the New Media: A Case Study of Pentecostal Discourse Communities of SMS Users in South-western Nigeria
‘Rotimi Taiwo

Part III. Arenas of Exchange, Competition, and Conflict
11. Media Afrikania: Styles and Strategies of Representing “Afrikan Traditional Religion” in Ghana
Marleen de Witte
12. Senwele Jesu: Gospel Music and Religious Publics in Nigeria
Vicki L. Brennan
13. Managing Miracles: Ambiguities in the Regulation of Religious Broadcasting in Nigeria
Asonzeh Ukah
14. Living across Digital Landscapes: Muslims, Orthodox Christians, and an Indian Guru in Ethiopia
Samson A. Bezabeh
15. Zulu Dreamscapes: Senses, Media, and Authentication in Contemporary Neo-shamanism
David Chidester

Coleman, “Encountering the archive”

Coleman, Simon (2012) “Encountering the archive.” The Immanent Frame. http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2012/08/24/encountering-the-archive/ (accessed August 24, 2012).

Excerpt: Where on earth to begin with the rich but deeply disturbing material presented to us on BishopAccountability.org? (For an example, see the documents relating to the Province of St. Barbara.) How to confront the archive’s huge volume but also the extent of its moral charge?

I also have a number of questions about what we are, or should be, looking at—the proper boundaries of the object of our inquiry.

Is this a particularly American phenomenon? After all, clerical sexual abuse has been reported in many parts of the world, even if nation-wide inquiries have been instituted in just a few places, such as the U.S. and Ireland. And is this an exclusively Christian (or even Catholic) phenomenon? In fact, a Chicago Tribune story from 2011reported the laxity of control over Buddhist monks who engage in sexual abuse in the U.S., though interestingly the tenor of the story implies that the problem was the lack of central control of such priests, whereas in the cases we’re looking at here there are clear problems with the center itself.

But can we even say that this is an exclusively or an especially religious phenomenon and be sure that the levels of abuse we’ve witnessed in the archive greatly exceed those in society at large? That last question has to be asked, even if the answer seems likely to be in the affirmative.

A more historical question relates to the framing and trajectory of the issue in the archive itself and whether, for instance, we can discern a shift away from an exclusively spiritual framing of behavior by church officials towards one where both legal and psychiatric languages are being brought in, if sometimes also conspicuously ignored.

Thinking about the archive in terms of the history of Christianity prompts another question for me. I wonder about the extent to which invoking history suggests both causality and context. In other words, does locating these sexual acts in the context of the history of Christianity or Catholicism either explain them or explain them away? The answer to both of these questions should, I think, be “no,” but we still need to look for patterns and shifts in the trajectories of opinion or activity that we might deem to be significant. In what follows, I use different histories to show how they inflect my readings of the archives, though I do not attempt to connect these four historical fragments in a systematic way . . .