Spring meeting NGG: April 22th

Representing Religion to a Plural Public

NGG Spring Meeting 2022

22 April 2022


Auditorium Museum Catharijneconvent

Lange Nieuwstraat 38, Utrecht

Registration: l.wijnia@catharijneconvent.nl

When considering the place of religion in the public sphere, representation is an important factor. For example, representation intersects with the question whether religion is recognized as a factor of importance in societal issues and public debates; with the language and vocabulary used to discuss religious topics; with the ways in which religion is visualized in media or artistic outlets; and not in the least with decisions on who gets to talk about religion.

This year’s NGG Spring Meeting turns the spotlight to the notion of representation of religion in two particular fields that strongly engage with the public: Museums and Media. Both fields aim to inform and educate their audiences, while dealing with the challenge of declining religious literacy and increasing stereotypes and misinformation. At the same time, these fields are dependent for their existence upon engagement with and from audiences. How is the representation of religion negotiated on this spectrum of public engagement? Do these fields share particular challenges and might they learn from one another in their responses? During the Spring Meeting, such questions are explored in two sessions featuring museum and media experts.

Session 1: Curating Religion

Museum Catharijneconvent is the museum for Christian art and heritage in The Netherlands. It has seen (pre-pandemic) annually increasing visitor numbers, which is why an extensive transformation period has been initiated. Part of the transformation plans, is a complete reinstallation of the permanent collection displays. This new presentation has a special target audience: pupils and students of all education directions. In contrast to the museum’s current displays, the new presentation will be organized in a thematic fashion. During this session you will be exploring and working on one of the presentation themes workshop-style, together with museum staff. Find out which questions and challenges are involved in curating such a major new museum presentation, both in terms of object and narrative selection, but also with the target audience in mind. Your input and expertise is greatly valued by the museum, as many of you work with part of the target audience: students of religion.

Session 2: Religion in the MediaWhile religion and media as a field is extremely broad and diverse, the conversation around the representation of media has often rather centered on the way religion is misrepresented. Religious stereotypes have pervaded all forms of media and at the same time, many religious communities are cautious of “secular” media as a potential threat for “traditional” religion. The complexities of this relationship between religion and media show us that it is important to remain critical of the way religion is portrayed in and by media. In an earlier session with the working group, we explored some of the questions around the representation of religion in Dutch newspapers, mainly on how and when religion becomes “newsworthy” for journalists who write about it. In this session, we want to continue this conversation around the theme of representation. Who are the audiences of these representations and how do media outlets play into that? What are distinctions between different types of media? And are there any “best practices” to avoid reinforcing religious stereotypes? These are a few questions that touch on some of the issues we want to explore further in this informal session.


11:30-12:30       ALV, including installment of new president and board members

12:30-13:15        Lunch

13:15-13:30        Welcome + introduction to today’s topic            

13:30-14:30        Session 1: Curating Religion

14:30-15:00        Break

15:00-16:00        Session 2: Religion in the Media

16:00-16:15        MA Thesis Award ceremony + Concluding remarks         

16:15-17:00       Drinks   

Optional: The museum is open from 10.00 onward. It’s possible to visit the museum before the start of the meeting at 11.30. Please bring your Museumkaart if you wish to do so.

If you wish to visit the museum, and you don’t have a Museumkaart, please get in touch with Lieke Wijnia at l.wijnia@catharijneconvent.nl.

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