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Oct 10, 2014

General Assembly and workshop on ‘Religious Evidences'

Since the annual NGG conference of 2014 took place already in May, we can this year not host our general assembly in conjunction with our conference as we normally do. Instead, this year’s members meeting will be held at the University of Utrecht on 10 October, from 5 to 6 p.m., concluding the workshop ‘Religious Evidences: Religious Evidences: Audiovisual Media, Narrativity and the Production of the Religious Real’. Participation in the workshop is free, but registration is required (see below).


Description of the Workshop ‘Religious Evidences’

In the workshop these ‘religious evidences’ will be investigated, focusing on ‘reality devices’ like audiovisual recordings, results of scientific studies, and specific forms of narratives. Case studies on the truth claims of Pentecostal testimonies, religion as a narrative device in contemporary TV series, recourse to scientific evidence in global Yoga, and the evidential claims of a charismatic-Christian documentary film will be presented and discussed.


Thus, the workshop contributes to the analysis of the production of ‘religious evidences’, as well as to an exploration of their distribution, presentation and reception in religious and ritual settings. It investigates the ways in which certain mediatic, narrative and scientific ‘reality devices’ are employed in contemporary religious contexts, asking how such religious use complicates these devices’ production of and relation to what they represent as ‘real’. Implying questions regarding the production of plausibility and legitimacy, as well as politics of representation and authentication, the analysis highlights the importance of the actual response of religious and non-religious audiences embedded in aesthetic communities.

Among the central issues to be explored is a broad notion of the ‘documentary’ in contemporary religious contexts: What devices are being authenticated as documents of reality and can thus be turned into ‘religious evidence’, into authentic evidence of the ‘religious real’? In this context, the workshop explores the suggestion that post-modern conditions have led to changed religious politics of authentication in what is to be considered ‘religious evidence’. Moreover, especially an investigation into the religious use of audiovisual technologies finds itself in a historical moment in which audiovisual media are increasingly losing their plausibility as primary ‘reality devices’.


In highlighting religious evidences as central to many contemporary religious practices and in contributing to their theorization, this workshop aims to contribute to theory-building in the study of religion.


Programme for the Workshop

9:30-10:00. Introduction (Birgit Meyer, Adrian Hermann/Annalisa Butticci)

10:00-11:30. Ann-Sophie Lehmann (Utrecht): ‘Meditating/Mediating Evidence: Crime Solving as Religious Practice from Sherlock Holmes to Homeland‘

Anja Kirsch/Dirk Johannsen (Basel/Oslo): ‘Making Religious History a Reality: "Religion" as a Stylistic Device in the TV show LOST‘

11:30-11:45. Break

11:45-12:30. Bruno Reinhardt (Utrecht): ‘The Evidence of Impartation: Tracing a Pentecostal Truth Claim from Testimony to Apperception’

12:30-14:00. Break

14:00-15:30. Annalisa Buttici (Utrecht): ‘The Politics of Presence: African Pentecostalism and Roman Catholicism in the 21st Century’

Adrian Hermann (Utrecht): ‘Documenting the Father of Lights: Thoughts on a Charismatic-Christian Documentary Film and its Audiences’

15:30-15:45. Break

15:45-17:00. Response by Mattijs van de Port (Amsterdam)

Concluding Discussion

17:00-18:00General Members Meeting of the Nederlands Genootschap voor Godsdienstwetenschap NGG


In short:

Event: Workshop ‘Religious Evidences’

Date: 10 October 2014

Time: 09:30 until 17:00

Location: Drift 21

Room: Sweelinckzaal


Registration: Please send an email to Jeannette Boere:

Organisers: Adrian Hermann, Annalisa Butticci & Birgit Meyer (Utrecht University)