Birgit Meyer

Birgit Meyer
Utrecht University | UU · Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

About

147
Publications
149,984
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5,122
Citations
Citations since 2016
44 Research Items
2653 Citations
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500
Introduction
Skills and Expertise
Additional affiliations
September 2004 - August 2011
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Position
  • Professor (Full)
September 2004 - present
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (147)
Article
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Addressing the implications of the introduction of the concept of religion to Africa in the colonial era, this essay approaches religion from a relational angle that takes into account the connections between Africa and Europe. Much can be learned about the complexity and power dynamics of these connections by studying religion not simply in but al...
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This introduction elaborates how the relationship between religion and light can and should be addressed as a key theme for the critical study of religion. It synthesizes the principal arguments of the 6 articles collected in this special journal issue and locates them in a broader theoretical framework, focussing especially on the politics of know...
Chapter
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This volume is open access: Refugees and Religion: Ethnographic Studies of Global Trajectories (ed with Peter van der Veer), Bloomsbury 2021, open access: https://www.bloomsburycollections.com/book/refugees-and-religion-ethnographic-studies-of-global-trajectories So there is no need to upload the text here. Just follow the url.
Chapter
Die Corona-Pandemie hat unser aller Leben einschneidend verändert. Wir sind Zeugen eines multiplen Systemschocks - Schwächen und Verwundbarkeiten wurden auf vielen Ebenen bloßgelegt. Was bleibt von der Krise und ihren tief greifenden Veränderungen? Stellt sie eine Zeitenwende dar oder ist sie nur eine Delle in langfristigen Trendlinien? Wie wird Co...
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Highlighting common threads in the pieces by Beekers, Kasmani and Mattes, and Dilger, this concluding essay reflects on the potential of comparison as conceptual innovation in the anthropological study of religious plurality. Asking how to develop innovative practices of comparison for the sake of grasping the dynamics of plural societies in the li...
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Why and how is it productive to conceptualize religion as mediation? In this article, I 1) rehearse the intellectual trajectory of the move from studying the implications of the adoption of new mass media into religious practices to a broader idea of religion as a practice of mediation; 2) address some criticisms raised with regard to the concept o...
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This introduction argues that the study of light and lighting devices, and the light mediations yielded by them, is important for scholars of material religion. Discussing the four articles on aesthetics of light in Christianity, we argue that synthesizing metaphorical and physical uses of light allows for a deep understanding of the processes thro...
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The future of the study of religion/s must be actively envisioned and pursued. In the aftermath of the deconstruction of ‘religion’ and the idea of ‘secularization’ as imbued with a Western teleology, it is necessary to rethink and reconfigure the study of religion/s against a global horizon. In this essay I propose that we should move out of the u...
Book
https://dspace.library.uu.nl/handle/1874/357317 The book is open access via the above link in the UU library depository.
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As anthropologists we are increasingly confronted with attempts – be it by employers, the media, or policy makers – to regulate our work in ways that are both epistemologically and ethically counterproductive and threaten our scientific integrity. This document is written out of concern about the problems that occur when protocols for data manageme...
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In this afterword I reflect on the development of the concept of mediatization in light of increasing diversity and contestations of religion and sketch some directions for further research on the dynamics of co-existence across religious and other differences. In this afterword I reflect on the development of the concept of mediatization in light...
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This article focuses on the concept of the frontier zone as a central critical term in Chidester's oeuvre. Understood as a site where difference is articulated, encountered, and governed, the frontier zone is a productive, insight-generating notion. Its usefulness pertains not only to the study of colonial settings in which scholarly knowledge abou...
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Afterword Reflecting on the contributions to this special issue, in this afterword I argue that the current fragmented state of religious studies in the Netherlands may well be taken as a laboratory to develop a study of religion for the future. Religious studies ‘new style’ can break with all sorts of path-dependent constraints, including the reli...
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Tomando como ponto de partida o paradoxo de que imediatismo não é anterior, mas antes um produto da mediação, esse artigo argumenta que a negociação de tecnologias mediáticas recentes é um elemento-chave para a transformação da religião. Invocada para autorizar a experiência de poderes espirituais como imediatos e reais, a mídia tende a “desaparece...
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Comment on van der Veer, Peter. 2016. The value of comparison. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
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This chapter argues that deeper knowledge about Catholic religiosity – regarding theological ideas, rituals as well as everyday practice – is important to allow for a shift in perspective so as to bring into the picture aspects that remain blind spots as long as religion is explored through a mentalistic (Protestant) lens. Turning to Catholicism as...
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The main point of John Peel's intriguing critical intervention is to warn against what he sees as an overemphasis on similarities between Christianity and Islam. Making these religions look all too similar, he argues, may come at the expense of paying due attention to the distinctiveness of each of these religious traditions and hence to their intr...
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INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A FRAMEWORK FOR THE STUDY OF CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM ENCOUNTERS IN AFRICA - Volume 86 Issue 4 - Marloes Janson, Birgit Meyer
Article
This is the author’s response to the comments offered by J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Rosalind I. J. Hackett, Duane Jethro, Stefanie Knauss, David Morgan, and Don Seeman on Birgit Meyer’s book Sensational Movies. It addresses the entanglement of Africa and the West; positive and negative evaluations of African tradition and culture; the importance of...
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In order to understand current dynamics of religious diversity, a focus on the tangible presence of religion and the co-existence of new and longstanding religious buildings, sites and artifacts in urban spaces is a fruitful starting point. Launching the notion of iconic religion, this introduction seeks to contribute to developing a scholarly fram...
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Current scholarship in the social sciences and humanities, including the study of religion, shows a marked appraisal of bodily sensations, emotions, and experiences as eminently social and politico-aesthetic phenomena (rather than reducing them to a matter of mere individual psychology). How to grasp the genesis of shared perceptions and feelings,...
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An understanding of religion as a practice of mediation has great potential to open up new methods and theories for a critical study of religion. Leading beyond the privileged medium of the text, this understanding approaches religion as a multi-media phenomenon that mobilizes the full sensorium. The central point of this article is that forms of v...
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Beginning its sixth year of publication, Material Religion is an interdisciplinary journal that seeks to gather the best work from around the world engaged in materializing the study of religions. The editors welcome original scholarship on any religion and from any period in human history that treats material objects and practices as primary evide...
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Heritage formation involves some kind of sacralization, through which cultural forms are lifted up and set apart. But success is not guaranteed in the making of heritage, and the cultural forms that are singled out may well fail to persuade. Heritage formation is a complicated, contested political–aesthetic process that requires detailed scholarly...
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This paper explores the plurality and dynamics of ‘cultural heritage’ formation in Ghana by looking at key players in the historically constituted heritage arena and the contestations between them. Focusing on the intersecting domains of the state, religion, and entertainment media, it discerns several tendencies with regard to the framing of cultu...
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The rise of religion as a modern category, with Protestantism as its main exponent, has introduced a set of oppositions that privilege spirit above matter, belief above ritual, content above form, mind above body, and spirituality above materiality. This has ever since entailed a devaluation of religious material culture, and materiality at large,...
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That relation has long been conceived in antagonistic terms, privileging spirit above matter, belief above ritual and objects, meaning above form, and "inward" contemplation above "outward" action. After all, wasn't the opposition between spirituality and materiality the defining characteristic of religion, understood as geared to a transcendental...
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The power of pictures cannot be understood by a sole focus on pictures, but needs to be based on a relational and contextual approach that probes into the constitution of human-picture relations through broader politics of representation, modes of governance, and practices of animation at specific times and places. Pleading for a broadened approach...
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Over the past six years, the editors and a variety of contributors to this journal have reflected on definitions of material culture, on the materiality of religions, and on the sensory characteristics of religious practices. Doing so is important if we want to achieve theoretical insights that inform scholarship and advance the field of the materi...
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What do a spirit medium, an icon, the Bible, a taped Islamic cassette sermon, and a poster depicting a Hindu god have in common? These diverse items—the list could easily be extended—are all media that have been authorized within particular religious traditions as suitable for humans to link up, in one way or another, with the divine or spiritual....
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Taking as a starting point the paradox that immediacy is not prior to, but rather a product of mediation, this article argues that the negotiation of newly available media technologies is key to the transformation of religion. Invoked to authorise sensations of spiritual powers as immediate and real, media are prone to ‘disappear’ or become ‘hyper-...
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RELIGION IN the public sphere and public religion have recently become much-debated issues and research foci in the study of religion, identity, and politics in Africa. there are good empirical reasons to evoke these and related terms so as to further our understanding of the place and role of religion in society, as i have also experienced in my o...
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One of the key features of Pentecostal/charismatic churches is their sensational appeal. Taking as a point of departure the experience of the Holy Spirit as a "portable," embodied power source, this essay seeks to contribute to developing alternative concepts that expand our view of Pentecostalism as it emerges through a "Protestant lens." First, I...
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Full-text available
Beginning its sixth year of publication, Material Religion is an interdisciplinary journal that seeks to gather the best work from around the world engaged in materializing the study of religions. The editors welcome original scholarship on any religion and from any period in human history that treats material objects and practices as primary evide...
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This essay focuses on the representation of ‘tradition’ and ‘heritage’ in Ghanaian video films, which are frequently critiqued by accomplished filmmakers (as well as global audiences accustomed to ‘African Cinema’) for offering a negative image of Africa. Film is shown to be situated in the midst of tensions and cleavages about ‘tradition’ and ‘her...
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In southern Ghana, where I have been conducting research on the genesis of popular Christianity for almost twenty years, Christian imagery is everywhere. The Ghanaian state re-adopted a democratic constitution in 1992, and this was followed by a liberalization and commercialization of mass media, which in turn facilitated the spread of Pentecostali...
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This essay focuses on the representation of 'tradition' and 'heritage' in Ghanaian video films, which are frequently critiqued by accomplished filmmakers (as well as global audiences accustomed to 'African Cinema') for offering a negative image of Africa. Film is shown to be situated in the midst of tensions and cleavages about 'tradition' and 'her...
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In his review article, Terence Ranger raises two major issues. First, he is concerned about the relation between exoticizing ideas about an 'African occult' in Western societies (for example, Scotland Yard investigations, media reports, etc.) and Africanist work on this topic. This is a pertinent issue. Pointing out worrisome overlaps between popul...
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In recent years, Pentecostal charismatic churches (PCCs) have gained increasing popularity throughout Africa. Situated in a genealogy of Christianity in Africa, they espouse significant continuities with mission churches, African Independent Churches and even the African religious traditions that they despise as being the realm of the ‘powers of da...
Chapter
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Over the past decade, a host of studies probing into the relation between religion and media emerged in the interface of anthropology, sociology, media studies, religious studies, philosophy, and the arts. Moving beyond a view of religion and media in terms of a puzzling antagonism, in which two ontologically distinct spheres-the spiritual and the...
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This book provides students of Africa with a guide to the bewildering variety of scholarly work on the issue of modernity in Africa, and to offer some tools for dealing with its intellectual paradoxes. Part One contains both analytical and historical examples of the genealogies of modernity in the African continent and the fragmentation over time o...
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This introduction places the articles presented in this special issue in a broader frame by outlining current issues in the study of religious material and visual culture. It argues for an understanding of religion as a practice of mediation to which media, understood as "sensational forms" are intrinsic. Such sensational forms are central to const...
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Images of evil or evil images ?Popular images of Devil in Ghanaian ChristianityFocusing on images of evil, this paper explores differences between the modes of looking induced by the exposition All About Evil in the Royal Tropical Museum in Amsterdam, on the one hand, and the Christian setting in which the items on display feature in Ghana, on the...
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If images are life-forms, and objects are the body they animate, then media are the habitats or ecosystems in which pictures become alive. (Mitchell 2005: 198) Situated in an approach of religion in Africa that stresses the need to move beyond essentializing oppositions of Africa and the West, this article focuses on the Christian popular culture t...
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Cet article, qui se concentre sur les images du mal, explore l’écart entre les modes de vision induits d’une part par l’exposition « All About Evil » au Royal Tropical Museum d’Amsterdam, et d’autre part par le cadre chrétien dans lequel apparaissent d’ordinaire les objets ainsi exposés. Tandis que les images du mal, dans le contexte de l’expositio...
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This article addresses the interface of video-films and Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity in Ghana. This interface, it is argued, needs to be examined from a position that transcends the confines of film studies and religious studies and leaves behind a secularist perspective on the relationship between religion and film. On the basis of detaile...
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This special issue of Postscripts addresses the interace of religion and film by exploring both hos religion is deployed through film and how film is utilized in service of religion. The issues is based on a workshop, Mediating Religion and Film in a Post-Secular World held June 16-17, 2005, at the University of Amsterdam.
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Focusing on the phenomenal popularity of Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches (PCCs) in Africa, this article addresses the apparent consonance between the rise of this type of Christianity and the spread of neo-liberal capitalism. It is argued that Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic can serve as a source of inspiration for grasping this phenomenon, but shoul...
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This article seeks to contribute to a more adequate understanding of the adoption of modern audiovisual mass media by contemporary religious groups. It does so by examining Pentecostal-charismatic churches as well as the Christian mass culture instigated by its popularity, and so-called traditional religion in Ghana, which develop markedly differen...
Book
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"... one of those rare edited volumes that advances social thought as it provides substantive religious and media ethnography that is good to think with." -- Dale Eickelman, Dartmouth College Increasingly, Pentecostal, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and indigenous movements all over the world make use of a great variety of modern mass media, both...
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Taking as a point of departure Fernandez's survey (1978), this review seeks to show how research on African Independent Churches (AICs) has been recon-figured by new approaches to the anthropology of Christianity in Africa, in general, and the recent salient popularity of Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches (PCCs) in par-ticular. If the adjectives "Af...
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In this article I examine the elective affinity between Pentecostalism and the vibrant video-film industry that has flourished in the wake of Ghana's adoption of a democratic constitution. I argue that, as a result of the liberalization and commercialization of the media, a new public sphere has emerged that can no longer be fully controlled by the...

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