SOAS University of London

Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions

Intersections of Religion and Media in 1980s-1990s Japan

Erica Baffelli (University of Manchester)

Date: 30 January 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 30 January 2014Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Kamran Djam Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Lecture


This paper will discuss some themes related to the relationship between media and  “New Religions” in 1980s-1990s Japan. In 1980s and early 1990s some “New Religions” (shinshūkyō), such as Agonshū and Kōfuku no Kagaku, came into prominence especially via the use of media (initially publications, but also rituals broadcasts, advertising campaigns and public media events). This created new modes of ritual engagement and community (the transmission of rituals and meetings via satellite broadcasting in Agonshū, for example, enabled members across Japan to participate together in groups activities) and new ways of interactions between leaders and members (direct interactions became “mediated” and, as a consequence, more controlled). Media use is important for religious groups, but it also involves risk. In some cases, the use of media for proselytism attracted criticism through other media and religious groups had to confront the issues of image control and media exposure.  Indeed, how media texts are received and used by readers/viewers is often beyond the control of the group producing them.


Erica Baffelli is Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester. Her research interest lies primarily in the interaction between Japanese ‘New Religions’ and media. In 2010 she co-edited, with Ian Reader and Birgit Staemmler, the volume Japanese Religions on the Internet: Innovation, Representation, and Authority (Routledge Research in Religion, Media and Culture Series).

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