Globalization and Religion: Identity and Power
INAES (Institute for North American and European Studies), University of Tehran
15-16 November 2005
Cyber capacity and Globalization of Religion in two parallel worlds
Saied Reza Ameli
University of Tehran, Department of Communications
Saied R. Ameli is an Assistant Professor of media studies at the University of Tehran. He completed a PhD at Royal Holloway University of London at September 2001. His latest book is 'Americanization and British Muslim Identity' as well series of publication on British Muslim Expectations of the Government. He now Teaches globalization of communications, Cultural Studies as well Cyber Studies in University of Tehran, Department of Communications.
Cyberspace is constructed by five major elements which reflects capacities and prospects of the new world. Digitalization, virtualization of reality, interactivity, hyperlinked process and dispersal are considered as major characteristics' elements of cyber world (Lister, teal. 2003). In the context of religious norms and values, this paper will examine these five components of cyber world to explain synchronic changes in two parallel world—the real and the cyber world.
1) Digitalization is an unlimited potential for accessibility, changeability, connectivity and networking relationship between members of a particular faith around the world. Digitalis is a technical process which converts all input into numbers. These numbers are subject for division, subtraction, multiplicity and additionality. Mathematization of religious text and context make extensive flexibility for mineralization, expansion, division and collectivity of religious representation in a local, global and global environment. While analogue production is a set of physical properties that can only be stored in another ‘analogous’ physical form, digital production is a set of product which is subject for permanent state of flux stored any where in plural version of productions.
2) Virtualization of reality means emergence of new version of reality in the virtual layer. Virtualization of reality is a potential for uploading all social, cultural and political analogue production of religion into cyberspace. This means that beside analogue presentation of religion in the real world, parallel presentation of religion in the virtual world with hyper capacity in the cyber world took place.
3) Interactivity; cyber space creates significant increase in opportunity for exchange of knowledge, experiences, values and idea. Cyberspace creates extensive ground for interactivity which stands above normative values localizing norms and values such as ethnicity, nationality and local religious values. In this regard, being interactive denotes the users’ ability to directly intervene in and change the images and texts, values and norms and idea and knowledge that they access.
4) Hyperlink process has potential to interlink all textual and contextual capacity of cyber religion. Hypermedia is also working as a force for acceleration and compression of social process which potentially can protect all immediate individual and social religious needs of the follower of the faith. Here cyber ritual, cyber religious ethic and cyber religious movements simultaneously and synchronically could have worked in parallel manner.
5) Dispersal function of new media in general and cyberspace in particular, is another possibility that can create unity within diversity and diversity within unified space. Distribution of data in cyber environment is pluralistic, highly individuated and woven ever more closely into the fabric of everyday life. This possibility can culturally expand presence of religion in everyday life. Therefore at beginning of 21st century while many sociologists, anthropologist as well cultureless expect marginalization of religion, paradoxically one argues centrality of religion again in all aspect of cultural life.
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