Imagining Europe: Normativity, Identity and Diversity in Visual and Material Culture

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Religion, Media, Normativity

The new project of the International Exchange on Media and Religion focuses on a theoretical question that has so far been neglected in research on media and religion. We are interested in deepening the understanding of the normative dimension of (audio-)visual and material communication within religious traditions and in exploring their influence on broader cultural contexts and concepts. The theoretical reflection about the normative significance and impact of (audio-)visual and material communication is articulated on different levels:

  • the normative dimensions in theoretical approaches to religion in visual and material culture from different disciplinary perspectives;
  • the normative dimensions on the empirical level within historical and/or contemporary sources as well as in transmission processes within religious traditions and cultures;
  • the normative dimension in the hermeneutical reflection that links theoretical frames with empirical aspects of research in religion.

These general questions will be discussed dealing with a selected, concrete question: the representation of Europe with a particular focus on material and visual culture.

Imagining Europe

In the contemporary society, “Europe” is a broadly debated and highly contested concept. This project explores how (audio-)visual and material communication shape general ideas of Europe as a common, yet ambivalent and contested frame for identity processes. It analyzes how communication becomes normative and how normative ideas are being communicated. We are particularly interested in the role religion plays in visual and material culture and the production of an idea of Europe as a common ground: in a spatial, temporal, and societal sense.

Looking at the religious dimension of historical or contemporary aspects of European culture, gives a particular advantage in uncovering issues such as:

  • material, visual, or medial representations of Europe and their normative performance,
  • the relationship between dominant and subversive medial representations of Europe,
  • dynamics of and transformations in representations of Europe,
  • the negotiation of diversity and equality in representing Europe,
  • localization and specificity of different representations of Europe and their normative agendas in European countries,
  • localization and specificity of different representations of Europe and their normative agendas in countries in other continents,
  • identity processes linked to representations of Europe.

Workshop I: 28-30 August 2019

Our first workshop takes place 28-30 August 2019 at the University of Munich and we will be discussing our initial theses.