The 21st century has seen an exponential rise of what can be loosely defined as spiritual media and culture – virtual worlds are replete with reports of mystical experiences, and astrology apps, tarot readings on TikTok, or wicca influencers on YouTube can attract millions of subscribers, followers, and views. What used to be marginal, esoteric “structures of feeling” (Williams, 1977) belonging outside of the socially prescribed, institutional frameworks are now visibly in the mainstream, offering different models of identities, entrepreneurships, and engaged in meaning making practices that are often lodged between the sacred and the trivial. How can we, in media and cultural studies, critically engage with these practices that are no longer liminal and covert, but are proliferating in the mainstream media and culture? Does this abundance of digital spiritual spaces and acceleration of ‘new’ cultural experiences simply reproduce the “illegitimate knowledge” (Katz, 2014), thus making it more observable? And if spiritual cultures are a response to ontological insecurities, what kinds of meanings and values do they produce and disseminate?

The aim of this symposium is to provide a platform for inter- and cross- disciplinary dialogue about old/new spiritual cultures, occulture and magic practices in the 21st century. Its purpose is to engage with epistemic tensions situated within the discursive ‘return’ to mythologies of pre-modern enchantments, and to examine emerging political, environmental, economic, and cultural dynamics that define spiritual practices in 21st century.

We invite papers to address the following themes:

  • Spirituality and/as decolonial praxis
  • Spirituality and emotional labour
  • Spirituality and politics of identity
  • Commodification of spirituality
  • Re-enchantment in the media
  • Cultural value and legitimacy of spiritual practices
  • Conspirituality and disinformation
  • Spirituality and environmentalism
  • Creative industries and spirituality

Please submit a 250-word abstract and 50-word biography to Vana Goblot – by 26th April 2023.