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Posts Tagged ‘Bremen’

Religiousness and God in Computer Games

by Simon Heider

A lecture that deals with Computer games – The eyes of many people would light up immediately and they would start to listen with eager anticipation. I also was curious what Michael Waltemathe would tell us about „Religiousness and
God“ in Computer games.

The first part of the lecture dealt with the topic of religion in computer games. For that he chose three games as main examples to show how the topic might be placed and handled within a computer game.

The first one was the final sequence of Jedi Knight – Mysteries of the Sith. In the  sequence the character Mara Jade has to solve an encounter with her friend Kyle Katarn, who has been corrupted by the dark force. Before that final encounter she had to find her way to the center of the temple. During that she passed many pictures which described what two Jedis have to do in order to solve a conflict. One of this things is that the player learns that conflicts are solved by the abdication of violence. So in the final scene the only solution is at first not to cross the bridge to attack Kyle but to commit „suicide“. In the following scene a picture at one end of the thrown hall shows a kneeling Jedi with his switched off lightsaber in front of him. This is the final hint for the player – only if one condemns violence, one is a true Jedi. When Mara switches off her lightsaber Kyle is so moved by her confidence in their former friendship that he sees his failures and realizes the corruption by the dark force. In Waltemathes opinion this scene shows the central substance of the Star Wars universe where a Jedi acts in accordance to friendship, faith/reliance and devotion.
Only if one’s matters are seen as arbitrary one can become a good Jedi. The inspiration by some religions can be recognized in it’s absolute clarity in this scene. He used the term sledgehammer method for the approach of Mysteries of the Sith.

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Researching the Everyday Mediatization of Religion

by Xabier Riezu Arregui


“Mediatized Worlds of Religion: Researching the Everyday Mediatization of Religion Empirically” was the title of the lecture on August 05. The professor Andreas Hepp of the University of Bremen talked to us about the importance of taking mediatization processes into account in our research projects. His lecture was aimed to provide us with the conceptual tools for that purpose. Hepp says there are two extreme positions with regard to the meaning of “mediatization”. The first one discusses mediatization as a “logic of the media”. According to this approach, there is one specific logic of the media, and what we can study is how actors and organizations accommodate to that logic. The second position on the contrary, contends that the society is shaped through a lot of acts of appropriation, interpretation, and resistance; not necessarily media related. Furthermore, the media-related pressures are too heterogeneous to be reduced to one media logic.

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Ethnography in the Virtual World, the Virtual Body and “Being Different”

by Riannon Clarke


On Wednesday, Greg Grieve, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, encouraged those interested in virtual-world ethnography to “Be Different.” He outlined a theoretical framework for his several-year research in Second Life that provides an explanation for the possibility of immersion in virtual worlds, a crucial aspect of participant-observation ethnography. Network analysis or simply “lurking” on communities in the online world are decidedly unworkable ways to arrive at the “thick description” most ethnographers still strive to provide in their discussion of cultures. Instead of static websites, one must interact with, and become immersed in a virtual social space.  If one abides by the requirements of theorists such as Tom Boellstorff, a certain sensorial realism must be present in the virtual space for the subject to become engaged, while Alex Golub emphasizes the performance of shared projects, such as World of Warcraft raids, as critical to fostering deep immersion. Grieve added a new dimension to the discussion by, almost ironically, ushering in a discussion of the body.  But is this so ironic? Rather than arriving at a definitive place, Greg’s discussion led us to consider some of the productive differences that a discourse of body, as opposed to simply terminology such as “identity,” provides in the analysis of Second Life immersion.

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Learning and Doing Virtual Ethnography While You Are Winking in the fluid world of Second Life.

by Mohammad T. Abbasi Shavazi

We had the great opportunity to attend the Summer School „How virtual is Reality“ at the Jacobs University Bremen. One of the most interesting teaching units of the summer school was Ethnography in Fluid World by Gregory Price Grieve,  who is associate professor of Religious Studies and the Director of MERGE: A Network for Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is researching and teaching in the intersection of South Asian religions, New Media, and postmodern and pluralistic approaches to the study of religion. One of the apparent signs which indicate he is a ready to write ethnographer (one of the basic and important skills in ethnography) is that you can see a pencil behind his ear! often. Weiterlesen …

Methods of Network Analysis – Exercises

23.09.2010 Kommentare aus

by Katharina Schubert


According to the summer school´s Book of Abstracts Dr. Martin Engelbrecht wanted to introduce the concept of „network analysis:

The internet has become a significant medium both for spiritual and religious discourses and for the networks that actually hold these discourses.Thanks to the options provided by the net even the scattered members of tiny and poorly structured groups, movements or even trends can organize themselves and their discourses much more effectively than ever before. This has a profound effect on the dynamics of social developments in the area of spirituality and religion.
(See also Martin Engelbrecht, Netzwerke religiöser Menschen, 2006)

So what is is all about it and what did we actually do?
After the introduction of the theory in the morning we started the exercise session after lunch. For this we divided into three smaller  groups to attend to the exercises Martin Engelbrecht gave us.

The task was: Try to produce a rough sketch of the networks involved in the discourses based on their respective positions in the discourse. Choose one of the discourses:

  1. “Keep your shirt on!” Or: Sex in Evangelicalism
  2. “Was Dino really a pet of Cain and Abel?” Or: Creationism vs. the Theory of Evolution
  3. “Can I have a Canadian as a slave?” Or: How to deal with the ‚Word of God‘

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How virtual are ghosts?

by Britta Rensing

As Jan couldn’get much out of the lecture on Sunday morning which was given to the group by Peter Bräunlein I will give a short report.

Asian ghost movies

In the perspective of the enlightenment the belief in spirits and ghosts is seen as being pure superstition. Adorno, who thought of superstition as an obstacle to enlightenment, claimed to get rid of it as to him “the disenchantment of the world means the extirpatation of animism” (Adorno/Horkheimer. Dialectic of Enlightenment. 2002, 2). So how is it possible that so many postmodern ‘enlightened’ people are increasingly taking stock in ghost movies, especially Asian ghost movies?
When in 1987 the film “A Chinese Ghost Story” was released, it had an enormous impact on the horror film genre. The story included demons and fights, was a mixture of eastern and fantasy, of martial arts and horror, set in ancient China. The historical model for this kind of movie, which from then on has made a lively public appearance can be seen in the 14th century Wuxia novel tradition dealing with adventure stories of knights and the supernatural. One example is the story of “The Marshes of Mount Liang”, which in East Asia was also trasmitted via cartoons and films. Wuxia films date back to the Hong Kong cinema of the 1920s (Shaw Brothers Studio) and got even more popular in the 1960s and 1970s. The Wuxia films in the Hongkong cinema combined thriller, horror and mystery elements, and were also successful in Europe and the United States.

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Religion in Virtual Worlds. A Historical Overview on a New Research Topic

by Nadine Gremmers

Our second “Summer School” day started with the lecture “Religion in Virtual Worlds. A Historical Overview on a New Research Topic.” by Kerstin Radde-Antweiler and Simone Heidbrink. The referents discussed the following points:

1. “Reality” versus “Virtuality”? How would the participants of the “Summer School” define these two terms and their relation to each other?

2. Virtual World: Conceptions and Definitions.

3. The history of various Virtual Worlds: An Overview of so called “Life Sims” and “MMORPGs”.

4. Case Studies and methods.

At the beginning of the lecture, participants should define “Reality” and “Virtuality”, which led to the following assumptions:

– “Reality” and “Virtuality” are interdependent, but exhibit different characteristics.

– “Reality” = “real life” – “Virtuality” pretends to be “real life” (was designated as main discourse).

– In “Reality” you have a limited mass of possibilities. In “Virtuality” you have an unlimited mass of possibilities.

– “Reality”: Perception with all senses possible – “Virtuality”: Perception only with some senses possible.

– “Reality” = experience of what is out here − “Virtuality” = representation of what is out here

– “Reality”: “Ownership” of a physical body − “Virtuality”: “Ownership” of an Avatar

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