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OnderzoekCentre for East Asian Studies Groningen

Colloquium on Asian religions | New (charismatic) authorities, celebrity gods and networks: Japanese “ New Religions” online

Wanneer:ma 01-12-2014
Aanvang:17:00
Eindtijd:18:30
Waar:Old Court Room, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Oude Boteringestraat 38, Groningen

Speaker: Dr. Erica Baffelli (University of Manchester)

New (charismatic) authorities, celebrity gods and networks: Japanese “ New Religions” online .

In the mid 1990s some Japanese new religious movements (usually grouped under the collective designation shinshūkyō) established a presence on the Internet. Almost all official website of Japanese `New Religions` in late 1990s offered an introduction to the groups and their activities, but example of religious practices online were rare. This can initially appear as a contraction, as many new religious groups are known for their intensive (and sometimes aggressive) use of media and for their efforts in presenting an image of modern and up-to-date religion. However, the cautious approach to the Internet by New Religions undoubtedly reflects their reactions to the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo metropolitan subway perpetrated by members of Aum Shinrikyō in 1995 and consequently aggressive criticism towards these movements and their leaders.

In the last few years social media have offered religious groups, leaders and members new spaces where existing authority can be challenged, reinforced and member/leader interaction reshaped.

This paper investigates how new religious movements have been using the Internet in Japan in the last twenty years. It also discusses how Internet can develop new ways of interaction with religious leader and new forms of religious authorities. This new ways of interaction can challenge the perception of religious leader or authority, but can also be used as a means to reinforce or strengthen offline authority.  

Erica Baffelli is a Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester, UK. Her research interest lies primarily in new religious movements in Japan, especially in the interaction between Japanese ‘New Religions’ and media. Dr. Baffelli is a co-convenor of the research project Religion and the Media in East Asia at the Centre for the Study of Religion and Culture in Asia.

This talk is organised by the Centre for the Study of Religion and Culture in Asia, in association with Globalisation Studies Groningen and the Centre for East Asian Studies Groningen.