Article

Posting Images on the Web: The Creative Viewer and Non-violent Resistance Against Terrorism

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Abstract

In this article I investigate how the web was used for expressing non-violent resistance in the wake of the July 2005 bombings in London. I first describe how one website, entitled "We are not afraid," became a space for displaying and viewing responses to these attacks. My contention is that, to describe this phenomenon either as the creation of a fully fledged online community or simply as an electronic noticeboard is to oversimplify what is both a fluid and a social network. Indeed, the phenomenon is better described as a diverse collective representation in the face of shared trauma. In order to test this thesis out, I develop a taxonomy of postings showing the uses that these images are put to, including to console, to encourage, to explain and to exhort. Second, I look at the communicative ripples caused by this site, including the development of other sites that accepted the posting of satirical pictures and more explicit religious imagery. Third, I examine written responses to this web phenomenon, showing how these sites became catalysts for further interaction. On the basis of this analysis I make a number of observations, including that this represents a visually dominated, highly original and largely transitory network of resistance against terrorism.

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... Instead of saying "Your Country Needs You," his words now read "We're Not Afraid of You." (p.160) In addition, Mitchell (2006) notes appropriation of or morphing images for one's own message. For example, "following the failed bombings on July 21, an old tube ticket is apparently embossed with the claim: 'We are still not afraid.' ...
... The variety of items for sale creates a sense of in-group membership by producing consumer goods with slogans that can be worn and seen. Mitchell (2006) notes that on the We Are Not Afraid website, one can also purchase a wide variety of consumer merchandise, including hats, mugs, and T-shirts with the slogan 'We are not Afraid' printed on the items. In both of these cases, the organizations are, in a sense, selling not only membership into a club or group, but selling ideas and encouraging members to share in a sense of belonging by physically wearing or carrying items emblazoned with the name of the group. ...
... Over one year later, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps still employs the photograph for persuasive purposes, which gives the ongoing sense of urgency about the 'invasion.' Mitchell (2006) found that members from various countries sent in images of their flags with 'We are not Afraid' typeset over the image to show solidarity with Londoners after the bombings. In that case, the flags were used not as divisive signs but rather as demonstrations of support. ...
... After the July 2005 bombings in London, for example, the "Wea re not afraid" website allowed people postingp ictures and messages. In so doing,ithelped to create collective representations in acontext of shared trauma, and alsoo ffered Muslims ap latformt oe xpress their feelings (Mitchell 2006). In order to mourn the killing of journalists from the magazine Charlie Hebdo, accused of ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed, people employed the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie). ...
... Important here is the view, now shared by many scholars, that it is fruitful to approach religion as a practice of mediation between the levels of humans and some spiritual, divine, or transcendental force (De Vries and Weber, 2001). In this understanding, media -understood in a broad sense as the forms that bridge the gap separating these levels -are intrinsic to religion (Horsfield et al., 2004;Mitchell, 2006;Meyer and Moors, 2006;Morgan, 2010;Sumiala-Seppä nen and Stocchetti, 2005). Embracing religious objects, bodies, and all kinds of material forms, such a broad understanding of media obviously synthesizes the hitherto quite separate subfields for the study of media, body and senses, material culture, and visual culture. ...
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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 evidence and engages in critical reflection on the cultural construction of materiality. In this article the editors reflect on the formation and format of the journal, the force and direction of its articles and other features, the question of what constitutes the material culture of religion, and finally the role of materiality in the current study of religions. Along the way, the editors consider new theories and concerns that have been taken up in the journal's pages and address the range of disciplines and interests that are represented in the different departments of the journal.
Article
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 evidence and engages in critical reflection on the cultural construction of materiality. In this article the editors reflect on the formation and format of the journal, the force and direction of its articles and other features, the question of what constitutes the material culture of religion, and finally the role of materiality in the current study of religions. Along the way, the editors consider new theories and concerns that have been taken up in the journal's pages and address the range of disciplines and interests that are represented in the different departments of the journal.
Article
I demonstrate that despite the enormous amount of religion on the Internet, a general classification can be developed based upon the religious participation occurring at the various websites. I recognise these classifications as ‘religion-online’ and ‘online-religion’. Religion-online presents information about religion. It is a controlled environment. The site has been structured to limit participation. In contrast, online-religion provides an interactive religious environment for the web practitioner. Because of this difference, individuals and organisations have different perceptions concerning how the Internet should be used for religious purposes. In many cases there is an active form of religious participation occurring. Rituals are conducted, prayers are posted and even communion is carried out on this medium. In other situations the Internet presents material concerning religion to a passively receptive audience. Despite these levels of control, the web surfer is exposed to an enormous number of belief systems and also varying levels of online religious participation.
Rheingold (1993) and Wellman
  • See
  • Campbell
For a critical analysis of the term “civil religion,” see Demerath
  • See Bellah
Collective representations are the product of a vast cooperative effort that extends not only through space but over time; their creation involved a multitude of different minds associating, mingling, combining their ideas and feelings-the accumulation of generations of experience and knowledge
  • See Durkheim
especially the section on “fear / anxiety
  • See Wirth
  • Schramm