By Stewart Hoover and Nabil Echchaibi
This paper reflects theoretically on the experience of in-depth field studies of emergent digital religious practice. It focuses especially on the question of where and how change happens in the interaction between “the digital media” and “the religious.” Drawing on conceptual resources from religious studies, media studies, and anthropology, it lays out the outlines an argument that the most helpful way to think about this is as an emergent set of practices that reflexively contemplate and then inhabit “third spaces” of digital practice. These spaces involve negotiations between and within received and stable categories including—but not limited to—“private” and “public,” “religious tradition” and “ludic practice,” “received” and “emergent” practice, etc. The paper concludes with explorations of the extents and implications of such a theoretical formulation.
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