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Download Aesthetic Formations: Media, Religion, and the Senses by Birgit Meyer PDF

By Birgit Meyer

This publication examines the incorporation of newly obtainable mass media into practices of spiritual mediation in numerous settings together with the Pentecostal Church and Islamic events, in addition to using non secular varieties and photo within the sphere of radio and cinema.

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The prestige that comes with visiting statesmen, professors, and celebrities opens up alleys for material profit and political influence. Terreiros like Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá openly court these possibilities. In fact, the text that was read by anthropologist Vivaldo Costa Lima at the opening night discussed “the councel of the twelve oba’s” and the honorary title of the oloiês or ojoiês (Yorubá for “friend of the house”)—inventions (or “restorations,” depending on one’s perspective) that help to link ever more influential and affluent outsiders, “writers, deputies, painters, university professors, merchants, industrials, medical doctors and foreigners who live in Bahia,” in da Costa Lima’s words (Lima 1966, 101) to the religious community.

This mode of making community—truly in the sense of an aesthetic formation— resonates with the styles of binding mobilized by the Raelian Movement, which also works by calling on the body and the senses, and a strong aesthetic appeal (Machado in this volume). Notwithstanding the strict Raelian leadership structure, the Raelian conventions generate modes and moods in ways that have much in common with dance events such as White Sensation and similar shows. All these examples give insight into paradoxes and ambivalences involved in the making of religious formations in our time.

Next to a host of articles authored by the program participants, the program also yielded five dissertations: Guadeloupe 2006a, published in 2008; Oosterbaan 2006; de Witte 2008; Hoek 2008; and de Abreu 2009, as well as four publications derived from conferences we organized (Meyer and Moors 2006a; Hughes and Meyer 2005; Meyer 2008b; Hirschkind and Larkin 2008). In his groundbreaking book, Cohen pointed out that the recourse to fiction and symbolism occurs when geographic, natural boundaries become insecure.

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