By Dr Stephen Brown
An International Society for Media, Religion and Culture (ISMRC ) has
been inaugurated to support scholars and academic endeavours at the
intersection of media and religion.
“In this area almost more than any other it is important to keep in
mind the contribution of scholarship,” said Professor Stewart Hoover,
director of the Center for Media, Religion, and Culture of the
University of Colorado, and the society’s first president.
WACC is one of the founding organizations of ISMRC.
Dr Hoover was speaking at the society’s official launch during the 8th
International Conference on Media, Religion, and Culture, held in
Eskisehir, Turkey, from 8 to 12 July 2012.
The conference was the latest in a series of gatherings that were
initiated at meeting held in Uppsala, Sweden in 1994.
Hoover is a former member of WACC’s central committee – as the board
of directors used to be called – and a long-time member of WACC North
He said he hoped the society would “offer a context where we can get
acknowledgement and recognition for what we are doing.”
The Eskisehir gathering was hosted by Anadolou University and was
directed by Dr. Nezih Orhon, dean of the School of Communication
Sciences and a WACC personal member. In a keynote presentation, he
discussed religious and social diversity in Turkey and the way this is
covered by media.
The conference had strong participation from Turkey and the Middle
East. Papers dealt with issues including the place of minbars (Mosque
pulpits) in Iran, the identity of Iranian women in virtual spaces such
as Google+, the popularity of Turkish films on Arab television, and
televised religious discourse in Christianity and Islam.
Another focus for the five-day gathering was the place of digital
media, with presentations on issues such as Evangelical blogs as
“third spaces”, the efforts of the Vatican to respond to the digital
society through its portal news.va, and networked individualism and
Panels introduced the results of research on issues such as the media
and religion in Europe; communicating research in media, religion and
culture across contexts; Nordic perspectives on the mediatization of
religion; finding religion in the media; and the intersection of
music, social media and Evangelical Christianity.
According to Hoover, WACC has been involved in the Media, Religion,
and Culture process since the first public conference held in
Colorado, USA. At the conference, WACC sponsored a panel of
international representatives. WACC’s President Dr Dennis Smith was
also instrumental in initiating the 2008 meeting in São Paulo,
“Several of us who have been involved in the conferences and now the
Society, trace our interest in scholarship on media and religion to
WACC’s own Forum activities of the 1980s and 90s,” said Hoover.
“Many media scholars are also WACC members including five members of
our new board and two additional members of the former Steering
The next International Conference on Media, Religion, and Culture is
scheduled for Canterbury, England, in mid-2014.
More information on the International Society for Media, Religion and
Dr. Stephen Brown (Geneva, Switzerland), Vice-President of WACC-Europe
and a member of WACC’s Board of Directors, represented WACC at the
World Association for Christian Communication press release, July 25, 2012