Theory platform A Mediality

Religion is always concerned with the unavailable, the inaccessible, the invisible, the intangible – in short, with transcendence. The question of mediality, which theory platform A addresses, is therefore indispensable for the analysis of the dynamics of religion, since the perception of every reality is always conveyed medially, and is not immediately available to observation. Using media theories, the platform analyzes the conditions of possibility and limits of communication, where concern is with communication not only between people, but also between people and transcendent actors.

Regardless of how individual religions define transcendence, or perhaps simply leave it undefined, the inaccessible can only gain relevance for communities and individuals if it “shows” itself, becomes material, enters into experiences, connects with images, texts, sounds, numbers, rituals – and thereby becomes communicable. A central question here is who has access to such religious media and thus to the transcendent, and who decides. Thus, questions of power, and questions of inclusion and exclusion, cannot be separated from issues of how the transcendent is conveyed medially. But a media-theoretical perspective is also indispensable for investigating how religion is talked about.

Considering religions from the point of view of their mediality, their materiality, their forms of symbolization, their textuality, as well as the interaction between different media (which can after all transmit quite different signals), is therefore essential for all three fields of research in the Cluster of Excellence.