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

By Birgit Meyer

The important topic of this quantity is the incorporation of newly obtainable mass media into practices of spiritual mediation in a number of settings, together with Pentecostal-charismatic church buildings and Islamic pursuits, and using non secular types and photographs within the sphere of radio and cinema. in accordance with a long term cooperation, the members learn the function of faith and media within the emergence and sustenance of recent ‘aesthetic formations’ that entice the physique and the senses, and generate new types of binding and moods of belonging in our time.

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I soon spotted some of the intellectuals and anthropologists who frequently show up at these events (the latter probably commenting on my eternal presence in their field notes). I also identified some of the girls from the terreiro choir, who all boosted new, elaborately braided hairdos and wore identical wine red dresses, the color of Xangô. The rest of the audience must have been made up of a significant portion of the clients, members, and affiliates of Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá and—judging from their Bermudas and plastic flip-flops—a great number of people from the local neighborhood.

The particular aesthetic through which the Nazi regime sought to draw citizens into its vision of a Germanic superpower (see Benjamin 1999[1936]) is just an extreme example of the use of aesthetic resources by nation-states to envelop citizens in the imagined community of the nation. Scholars have been suspicious about the political use of aesthetics, regarding it as a supreme demagogical tool. While it is of course important to be critical about the ways in which states, and other power regimes, address and form people by appealing to their senses and shaping the material environment, it is high time for social scientists 26 7.

Instead, he urged Muslims to read and understand the Hadith and the Qur’an by themselves, instead of relying on Sufi sheiks’ mediations. This implied a rationalization of Islam as well as an intensification of religious experience. In this way, Islam was embedded and rearticulated within in a secularizing project that remained, however, messy and replete with paradoxes. Similarly, Stephen Hughes (Chapter 4) points out how in early Tamil cinema in the 1930s, mythologicals and devotionals became central to debates about the emergent categories of secular and religious, which ultimately proved impossible to disentangle.

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