Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between
This introductory chapter situates the book in relation to existing frameworks for the study of religion and technology across various disciplines and arenas of discussion. The introduction begins with a commentary on how the study of religion and technology can and should build upon recent scholarship in religion and media (which has been marked by a growing interest in the material and technological dimensions of religious practice), and in social studies of science and technology (where there has been a growing premium placed on the ‘supernatural’ or ‘transcendental’ qualities of modern techno-science). The introduction proceeds to assess the established literature on religion and technology, noting problematic tendencies to rely on naively instrumentalist conceptions of technology use, and also on a Christian-centered conception of religion as an immaterial, symbolic force, completely separate from its technological engagements. This critique sets the stage for the agenda pursued in the rest of the book, namely to reconceptualize the relationship between religion and technology, and to demonstrate the possibilities for new interpretation through the close reading of particular case studies, both within and outside the history of Euro-American Christianity.
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