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Religion in Cultural Imaginary

Panel Chair: Daria Pezzoli-Olgiati | Tuesday, August 25, 9-11 a.m.

The international research group “Exchange on Media and Religion” presents the results of a project focusing on the category of the “imaginary”. First, the multilayered debate about the central concept of the project is introduced by the panel chair: the term imaginary is discussed in order to capture the presence and circulation of religious references, symbols, and narratives in various social spheres, in politics, economy, arts, and popular culture. Furthermore, the imaginary is used to describe the reception and transformation of religious references through time and cultures: it can be defined as a shared pool of mental images and material products, of ideas, symbols, values, and practices that sustain meaning making processes and cohesion within a collective. At the edge between a sociological and cultural studies approach to religion in modern societies, the imaginary is strongly intertwined with the dynamics of religion in the tension between innovation and tradition.

Various facets of the preceding reflection on the theory of the imaginary are deepened in case studies undertaken by this project that focus on diverse European contexts and range from the early modern period up to the present day. In a multimedia presentation, keys aspects of these case studies will be rendered and summarized through film clips and images. This discussion will highlight elements of the interaction between religion and the cultural imaginary: the construction of memory in the face of tradition and innovation; identity as a boundary-making process of belonging and exclusion; and representation’s generation of multiple reception processes. The presentation notes in particular the role of varied media and material practices in the interaction between religious traditions, cultural imaginary, and social spheres.

Willem Hofstee and Bärbel Beinhauer-Köhler, invited guest reviewers, will provide critical assessment of both the theoretical approach and the broad spectrum of case studies. Their statements will set up a debate between the audience and the authors of the book: Ann Jeffers and Sean Ryan, Natalie Fritz, Anna-Katharina Höpflinger, Marie-Therese Mäder, Daria Pezzoli-Olgiati, Paola von Wyss-Giacosa, Davide Zordan, Natasha O’Hear, and Stefanie Knauss.

A discussion with the audience, moderated by Natalie Fritz, will conclude the presentation.

Participants: Willem Hofstee, Bärbel Beinhauer-Köhler, Natalie Fritz, Marie-Therese Mäder 


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Open Sessions

Thematic Outline

University Map (pdf, 192 KB)