Abimbola Adelakun

The Divinity School is pleased to announce a public lecture by Abimbola Adelakun: "'Distance is Not a Barrier': Digital Technologies and the Global Church"

This lecture will be on Tuesday January 31, at 5:00pm in our Common Room.

This lecture presents my study of Christianity in the age of digital connections. The networking possibilities that have been consequent of globalized media technology are opening new avenues for faith practices. The contact of cultures and contexts that follows will generate practices that will be integral to our interpretation of Christianity in the 21st century. From four categories, I explore how digital culture shapes the expressions and sociality of faith. First, I look at the modes of congregating on the internet and the “spectacular miracles” performed in these arenas to see the sensational forms that lure an audience. The performances of these miracles are taken as evidence of religion’s quest to advance the uses of the technology that folds space and time in order to resolve the arising issues of embodied presence and what it means for absorbed worship. Second, I will briefly describe some of my methods and resources of working through the digital arena, particularly the social media sphere. Third, I will sketch how some key traits such as the affects that vitalize the performances and interactions in the online arena aggregate the character of the community. Finally, I will highlight some conceptual challenges in the study of the digital networking of the body of Christ and the ensuing sociality.

Abimbola A. Adelakun currently teaches in the Department of African/African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests are Pentecostalism, performance, religion and spirituality, and their intersections with digital culture. In the AADS department, she teaches courses in spirituality and performance, dramatic literature, and modern African. She is the author of Powerful Devices: The Politics and Praxis of Spiritual Warfare (Rutgers 2022) and Performing Power in Nigeria: Politics, Identity, and Pentecostalism (Cambridge 2021). Her works have also been published in The Drama Review and Journal of World Christianity. She obtained a PhD from the department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin, along with a doctoral portfolio and Master’s degree from African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently a research associate with the John Templeton Foundation Religion Trust, working on The Global South Megachurch Project. She also co-edits the Bloomsbury series, Black Literary and Cultural Expressions. Her research has been supported by the John Templeton Religion Trust, the AAUW, The American Academy of Religion, The Henry Luce Foundation, Frances and Sanger Mossiker Research in the Humanities, and the John Warfield Center. Since 2008, Abimbola has been writing a weekly column for PUNCH, Nigeria’s most widely-read newspaper. Her popular column critically interrogates Nigerian political and social culture as it relates to the world.