Religion, Media and the Public Sphere – Meyer & Moors

In preparation for the groups presenting this week on Religion and the Media, I read some chapters from Meyer and Moors’ “Religion, Media and Public Sphere” (2005). Personally, having never studied politics I found the reading quite challenging and difficult to get my head around as a link to politics was made throughout the articles. From the introduction, the articles show how different forms of media, including cassette tapes, radio, video, television and the internet, are used within religious groups to spread their messages. I particularly liked the inclusion of “The Passion of Christ” by Mel Gibson as an example of the integration of religion into the Hollywood film industry as a form of media on a grand scale. It seems as though in different African countries, some forms of media are more widely used than others, for example in Ghana and Nigeria it seems as though Pentecostal movies seem particularly popular. No matter which forms of media are preferred, it is clear that media has provided a vehicle for the nation-wide and even world-wide spread of religious beliefs and politics.

In the “Public Piety and Popular Media in Egypt” article focus is placed on cassette-are corded Islamic sermons which have become a part of society’s canvas – they’re played everywhere from butcher’s shops to most forms of public transportation. This is interesting as this is not something commonly seen in the UK, although it is a historically Christian country is have become very secular and it seems as though there are always disputes over one being too obvious about one’s religion such that a phenomenon such as the widespread of cassette playing would never be something that would find footing in the UK.

The “Shifting Terms of Public Debate in Mali” article describes how since 1991, following “economic liberalisation and the introduction of multiparty democracy” there has been a surge in media and religious and political groups. In Mali, Muslim actors use a number of media forms to spread the Islamic message and enter into public debates.

The reading goes to show how different areas in Africa employ media to spread a religious message and how this ties in to politics. 


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