This wide-ranging and accessible book offers a stimulating introduction to the field of media anthropology and the study of religious ritual. Johanna Sumiala explores the interweaving of rituals, communication and community. She uses the tools of anthropological enquiry to examine a variety of media events, including the death of Michael Jackson, a royal wedding and the transgressive actions which took place in Abu Ghraib, and to understand the inner significance of the media coverage of such events. The book deals with theories of ritual, media as ritual including reception, production and representation, and rituals of death in the media. It will be invaluable to students and scholars alike across media, religion and anthropology.
Table of Contents
Preface. Prologue. Part One: Anthropology of Media 1. Theory and Clues 2. Media and Rituals Part Two: Mediatized Rituals 3. Three Perspectives on Mediatized Rituals 4. Death Rituals in a Media Age. Epilogue: Ritual, Media and Community. References.
Johanna Sumiala is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Research/Media and Communication Studies at the University of Helsinki, Finland.
"In this clearly written and highly engaging new book, Johanna Sumiala offers a refreshing and sophisticated new take on the links between media and ritual. She draws on both media studies and the latest sociology of religion to analyse a fascinating range of recent examples, from Michael Jackson's death to school shootings. Her book is sure to be an important text in this expanding area of media studies." - Nick Couldry, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
"This book will be an important contribution to the literature, synthesizing classic social theory, critical perspectives, and contemporary concerns. Through analysis of case studies of violence, death, community, celebrity, and ceremony in media representations and audience reception, Sumiala pursues a unique perspective on ritual as a key to successful social life in our contemporary situation. As such, ritual is also a key to achieving anthropologically informed understanding of media and society at large. The book should be of interest to students and scholars in communication, media, and cultural studies, media anthropology, and religious studies." - Eric W. Rothenbuhler, Scripps College of Communication, USA
"For scholars of religious studies, this work proves interesting in several ways. Grappling with theorists so well known and reviewed in the field brings the work clearly into the arena of ritual or religious studies. Her work with ritual theory and particularly with civic or national rituals is of particular interest, especially when supported by the work of Anderson, Grimes, and others... The case studies of recent media coverage of national tragedies as primary sources help to further elucidate the complex ties among death, ritual, media, and the community that are well-known (or perhaps not, in this newer context) to scholars of religion. Even those who are not students of religion can find significance in Sumiala’s discussions of the fear of death or being alone, the shocking nature of public death, and the mourning rituals of a community or a nation." - Emily R. Stewart, University of Pittsburgh, USA, in Religion