Cyber Sufism: Lessons from the Landscape of American Digital Islam
Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - 12:00pm
Within the hybrid, multicultural landscape of American religious life, Cyberspace offers tech-savvy Muslims an alternative platform for narratives and networking, piety and performance. Since the adoption of the printing press, Sufis have demonstrated a remarkable ability to adopt and adapt to emerging media technologies. Even so, the expanding use of the Internet by global Sufi communities remains largely unexplored by academic scholarship. What is 'new' about new media, and what is the future of digital religion? Drawing on new research, this talk spotlights key patterns, tropes and trajectories in Cyber Sufism by exploring how several contemporary American Sufi orders employ the Internet as a mediascape for the refashioning of authority, identity and ritual practice. Robert Rozehnal is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion Studies and the founding director of the Center for Global Islamic Studies at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA). He holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Duke University, and an M.A. in South Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has traveled widely in the Muslim world, with extended periods of study and fieldwork research in Pakistan, India, Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Malaysia. In addition to the history and practice of Sufism in South Asia, his research interests include ritual studies, postcolonial theory, religious nationalism, cyberspace religion, and globalization.