MO-TRAYL Workshop Doing Research on Popular Culture by Professor Birgit Meyer
On 24 May 2017, the MO-TRAYL team received a workshop on doing research on popular culture from Birgit Meyer, professor of religious studies at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. She discussed her book 'Sensational Movies - Video, Vision, and Christianity in Ghana'.
About Birgit Meyer
Birgit Meyer is trained as a cultural anthropologist and has been working on lived religion in Ghana for more than 20 years. She studies religion from a global and post-secular perspective. Her research is driven by an urge to make sense of the shifting place and role of religion in our time, and to show that scholarly work in the field of religion is of eminent concern to understanding the shape of our world in the early 21st century. In so doing, she seeks to synthesize grounded fieldwork and theoretical reflection in a broad multidisciplinary setting. Her main research foci are the rise and popularity of global Pentecostalism; religion, popular culture and heritage; religion and media; religion and the public sphere; religious visual culture, the senses and aesthetics.
About the book 'Sensational Movies - Video, Vision, and Christianity in Ghana'
Tracing the rise and development of the Ghanaian video film industry between 1985 and 2010, Sensational Movies examines video movies as seismographic devices recording a culture and society in turmoil. This book captures the dynamic process of popular filmmaking in Ghana as a new medium for the imagination and tracks the interlacing of the medium’s technological, economic, social, cultural, and religious aspects. Stepping into the void left by the defunct state film industry, video movies negotiate the imaginaries deployed by state cinema on the one hand and Christianity on the other.
Birgit Meyer analyzes Ghanaian video as a powerful, sensational form. Colliding with the state film industry’s representations of culture, these movies are indebted to religious notions of divination and revelation. Exploring the format of “film as revelation,” Meyer unpacks the affinity between cinematic and popular Christian modes of looking and showcases the transgressive potential haunting figurations of the occult. In this brilliant study, Meyer offers a deep, conceptually innovative analysis of the role of visual culture within the politics and aesthetics of religious world making.