The Center for Media, Religion and Culture serves as the global secretariat for the biennial international conferences on Media, Religion and Culture. This series of meetings was initiated by an invitational meeting held in Uppsala, Sweden in 1994. An international public meeting in 1996 in Boulder, Colorado, launched these as a regular series. That conference, attended by over 200 scholars and interested individuals from throughout the world, was directed by Stewart Hoover and Lynn Schofield Clark, and was the first major effort of what subsequently became the Center for Media, Religion and Culture. It was followed by the 3rd Conference on Media, Religion and Culture directed by Jolyon Mitchell at the University of Edinburgh in 1999.
The meetings 4-6 were supported by a grant from the Schichtung Porticus Foundation of Amsterdam.
More information about the conference series in the form of an FAQ for conference directors, can be seen here.
The International Society for Media, Religion and Culture
At the 2008 meeting, strong sentiments were expressed by participants concerning the value of an ongoing scholarly organization or association for the study of media, religion, and culture. The Steering Committee which then oversaw the conference series took this under advisement and began exploring options and taking input. A public forum on incorporation took place at Toronto. Following that, the Steering Committee took the advice and input of these two meetings and proceeded to form an association, formally incorporating it. Following a strong sentiment expressed at Toronto, the association is being called The International Society for Media, Religion, and Culture (ISMRC). Plans are underway for an inauguration of the society at the 2012 meeting. More details will be posted here in due course. Anyone wishing to give input to the Committee as it proceeds can be in touch with any member of the Committee (now the Board of the ISMRC), listed below.
Future meetings of the biennial ISMRC series
The 9th International Conference on Media, Religion and Culture will be held in Canterbury, UK, from August 4-7, 2014. Keynote speakers will include Professor Jonathan Walton (Harvard), author of Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism, and Professor Kathryn Lofton (Yale), author of Oprah: the Gospel of an Icon, with an address also given by the inaugural President of the society, Professor Stewart Hoover (Colorado). (Click here to view the presidential address delivered by Stewart Hoover.) More information is available on the conference website.
The 10th is anticipated to be held in Seoul, Korea, in 2016, and the 11th in Los Angeles, California, in 2018.
The 8th International Conference on Media, Religion and Culture was held at Anadolou University in Eskisehir, Turkey, from July 8-12, 2012. It was directed by Dr. Nezih Orhon and featured a post-conference historic and religious sites tour.
The 7th International Conference on Media, Religion and Culture was held at Ryerson University, Toronto, from August 12-16, 2010. It was directed by Dr. Joyce Smith, and brought together an international cohort of scholars and producers and featured a series of compelling plenaries.
The 6th International Conference on Media, Religion and Culture was held at the Methodist University of Sao Paulo from August 11-14, 2008. It was directed by Dr. Magali de Naciemento Cunha and brought together scholars, producers, and activists from over twenty countries. The conference website can be found here [link].
The 5th International Conference on Media, Religion and Culture was directed by Alf Linderman (who also directed the first conference in 1994) and Mia Löveheim) and was hosted by the Sigtuna Stiftelsen in Sigtuna, Sweden. The dates were July 6-9, 2006, and information is still online here [link]. Attending were over 100 scholars and experts on religion and religious change.
The 4th International Conference on Media, Religion and Culture took place September 1-4, 2004 in Louisville, Kentucky. It was directed by Dr. John Ferré and co-sponsored by the University of Louisville, the International Study Commission on Media, Religion, and Culture, and the Louisville Institute.
Between the 3rd and 4th CMRC meetings, the University of Jyväskyla, Finland held an important parallel conference titled Sacred Media (July 10-12, 2003), that fit into the goals and continuity of CMRC efforts. Directed by Dr. Johanna Sumiala-Seppänen, this meeting expanded the network of scholars of media and religion through a focus on technology and journalism.
Other international meetings have also been associated with the CMRC series. Among the most prominent was the Tehran International Conference on Religion and Media, held November 8-10, 2005 and co-sponsored by Tehran University and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting University. It was co-directed by Prof. Sayyed Hosseini, Dr. Abosallam Javadi Yeganeh, and Dr. Hamid Abdollahyan. Information about this meeting and planned future meetings can be found online [link].
Books and publications
Literally hundreds of books, articles, essays, and other expressions have resulted from these conferences. In addition, several of the CMRC conferences have been represented in book form. These include, from the first conference, Rethinking Media, Religion, and Culture (edited by Stewart Hoover and Knut Lundby), Sage, 1997; from the second, Practicing Religion in the Age of the Media (edited by Stewart Hoover and Lynn Schofield Clark), Columbia University Press, 2002; and from the third conference, Mediating Media: Studies in Media, Religion, and Culture (edited by Jolyon Mitchell and Sophia Marriage), T&T Clark, 2003.
Board of Directors
New members as well as officers are elected each two years by majority vote of the Board. Terms are for four years (two conferences) and are staggered. There are nine voting members (including the President). Members may be re-elected to a second term. The Vice President serves for two years and acts as Conference Program Coordinator, assuming the Presidency for two years at its conclusion. The immediate past President serves on the board as an ex-Officio member and is in charge of nominations during that term.
Lynn Schofield Clark, President (to 2016)
Mia Lövheim, Vice President
Mara Einstein, Treasurer
Stewart Hoover, Past President
Serving until 2016:
Mara Einstein Johanna Sumiala Anne Hardy Nezih Orhon
Serving Until 2018
Heidi Campbell Diane Winston Pauline Cheong [to be elected to fulfill President’s term, 2016]
**For further information on the election process and the staggered terms of the board click here: ISMRC Election matrix 2014