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Deus in Machina: Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between
Fordham University Press / 2012 / Paperback
$22.49 (CBD Price)
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The essays in this volume explore how two domains of human experience and action--religion and technology--are implicated in each other. Contrary to commonsense understandings of both religion (as an "otherworldly" orientation) and technology (as the name for tools, techniques, and expert knowledges oriented to "this" world), the contributors to this volume challenge the grounds on which this division has been erected in the first place.
What sorts of things come to light when one allows religion and technology to mingle freely? In an effort to answer that question, Deus in Machina embarks upon an interdisciplinary voyage across diverse traditions and contexts where religion and technology meet: from the design of clocks in medieval Christian Europe, to the healing power of prayer in premodern Buddhist Japan, to 19th-century Spiritualist devices for communicating with the dead, to Islamic debates about kidney dialysis in contemporary Egypt, to the work of disability activists using documentary film to
reimagine Jewish kinship, to the representation of Haitian Vodou on the Internet, among other case studies.
Combining rich historical and ethnographic detail with extended theoretical reflection, Deus in Machina outlines new directions for the study of religion and/as technology that will resonate across the human sciences, including religious studies, science and technology studies, communication studies, history, anthropology, and philosophy.
Jeremy Stolow is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University. He is the author of Orthodox by Design: Judaism, Print Politics, and the ArtScroll Revolution and the essay "Salvation by Electricity," in Religion: Beyond a Concept, ed. Hent de Vries (Fordham).
"Taking in an impressive historical and geographical sweep, the book contains fascinating chapters on thinking about machines, thinking through machines, and thinking machines. The authors embrace a broad definition of technology, which allows them to explore clocks and computers, cybernetics and science fiction, the medical technologies of genetics and organ transplants, electronic media technologies from the telegraph to the internet, and a variety of religious technologies, including Japanese Buddhist rituals for empowering objects, the Ghanaian Pentecostal electronic touch machine, and the Spiritualist magnetic cord for communicating with the dead."-David Chidester, author of Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture
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