The Special Issue will focus on comparative studies in religion, society and politics in the context of digital technologies. Digital technologies, artificial intelligence, and religious traditions; religious identity building through social media; religious youth’s engagement with digital worlds; digital religion; religious social media influencers; reimagined religious authority; religious YouTubers; authoritarian religious masculine gaze in the cyberspace; religious bubbles in the digital world; religious youth on Instagram; religious digital diaspora; and performative religious storytelling in the digital age have become intensely discussed phenomena of our age. However, there are few studies on these and similar issues even though it is given that these issues will increasingly influence societies, countries, laws and politics.
On the other hand, religion is increasingly being used to legitimize digital censorship. For example, successive governments in Pakistan have blocked many websites, limited access to social media content, and harassed citizens by resorting to Islamic beliefs, and digital blasphemy laws. In India, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government shut down the internet in regions dominated by minority Muslim people and employed a large number of paid trolls to harass and demonize the opposition and religious minorities on social media. In Indonesia, the government employed ‘buzzers’, or people who fill social media with pro-government comments to drown out oppositional voices. At the same time, Indonesian governments have blocked vast numbers of websites by using religious grounds and preventing blasphemy. These cases of using religion to limit access to the internet raise significant questions for scholars of religious studies as well as social and political sciences. Nevertheless, many of these questions remain unanswered.
This Special Issue is an attempt to shed a light on some of these issues. With these in mind, this Special Issue invites single case studies or comparative studies on any of the above-mentioned issues as well as the ones below. These are only indicative titles, and we welcome other relevant titles:
- Religious authority in cyberspace;
- Religious digital mobilization as soft power;
- Mapping digital religion(s);
- Transformations of religious discourses in the cyberspace;
- Internet and religious learning practices;
- Social media, religious populism, and religious authority;
- Religious minority voices and religious authority in the digital sphere;
- The sacred and the digital;
- Online religious hate;
- Religious authorities’ assistance of governments in legitimizing digital authoritarianism.