Are we right to connect millennialism and violence? Are groups like Heaven’s Gate or the Branch Davidians typical, or rare exceptions, magnified out of proportion by the lens of the media – and scholarship? How do we account for the popularity of mllennialism outside of religious traditions, new, extreme or otherwise?
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We discuss what we mean by ‘radicalisation’, and what its connections to socialisation, terrorism, and ‘religion’ might be. We take on the methodological question of how one might go about researching such a contested topic, and look specifically at some of Matthew’s findings relating to the causes of radicalisation, and the neo-Durkheimian ‘sacred’.
Many of us only know about the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan through film and television, and much of what we see blurs fact and fiction. Distinguishing each side of that messy divide is the prolific Kelly J. Baker, exploring how media portrayals of the hate group have influenced audiences and, in turn, fed back on its own members. This previously unaired interview conducted by A. David Lewis from 2013 sketches out the rise of the KKK on the large and small screen, its relevance to discussions of religious terrorism today, and perhaps even a link to Baker’s other work on zombies in popular culture.
The disappointment of Western pacifists here is not unlike the reaction of early Orientalists who, disappointed by the ritualism and deity-worship they found in living Buddhist cultures, described a degenerate Buddhism.
“While Hollywood often takes a critical stance in the name of provocation and artistic freedom, scholars of particular social and cultural groups often find themselves working against the grain of collective assumptions.”
Over the course of the last few decades religious violence has become an increasingly salient topic of public discourse and particularly in its global manifestations. In the social sciences these discourses focus primarily on explanations of violent acts that are driven by the socio-political contexts enveloping them. Mark Juergensmeyer argues that such explanations only tell part of the story, however, since some actions are motivated by a religious vision, like the vision of “cosmic war.”
“…it could be more conceptually misleading to talk about ‘religious violence’ than it would be to talk about ‘violence involving religion’. Whereas the former can appear to refer to a distinct category, the latter phrasing implicitly reminds us that human violence is the broader category and that sometimes religious considerations can be involved in that, among others.”
Is there something particular about religion which makes it a more potent ‘violence enabling mechanism’ than other factors? Are some religions more likely to inspire violence than others? And why should scholars even care? In this interview, Chris discusses these issues and more with Professor Brian Victoria, who, in addition to his scholarly credentials, is a fully ordained Zen Buddhist priest.
Anzac and Awe: Religion, Violence, and the Media in Australia
By Zoe Alderton, University of Sydney
Published by the Religious Studies Project, on 9 May 2012 in response to the Religious Studies Project Interview with Jolyon Mitchell on Religion, Media and Violence (7 May 2012).
Jolyon Mitchell is Professor of Communications, Arts
Discussions of religion in the media nowadays frequently revolve around issues of violence and social unrest. Religions and media can become collaborators in promoting peace and opening negotiations; at the same time the media can become host to extremist narratives which may incite violence. Does the media have a responsibility to promote peace? Are religions becoming more skilled at manipulating the media?