‘I’m Like Totally Saved’: Branding Religion and the Moral Limits of the Market - Sarah Banet-Weiser

What is at stake in the fact that we are increasingly comfortable living in brand culture? What might be gained, and what is lost, through this kind of living? Sarah Banet-Weiser, Media@McGill Beaverbrook Visiting Scholar for fall 2012, will be discussing these questions in her examination of two religious brand cultures, Prosperity Christianity and New Age Spiritualism, in her talk, ‘I’m Like Totally Saved’: Branding Religion and the Moral Limits of the Market. Co-sponsored by Media@McGill and the Art History and Communication Studies Speaker Series, this free public lecture will be held on Tuesday, October 2, at 5:30 p.m., in Leacock 26.


Abstract:
Branding in the contemporary era has extended beyond a business model; branding is now both reliant on, and reflective of, the most basic social and cultural relations. Brand cultures are spaces in which politics are practiced, identities are made, art is created, and cultural value is deliberated. One example of a brand culture is religion, where branding religious lifestyles represents a new marketing and business opportunity, where there is not one specific product, but rather a politically diffused notion of religious identity, that is re-imagined and reframed not only within consumer items, but also within the ways in which religion is organized, institutionalized, and experienced in everyday life. Here, I examine two religious brand cultures, Prosperity Christianity and New Age Spiritualism, as a way to address such questions as: what is at stake in the fact that we are increasingly comfortable living in brand culture? What might be gained, and what is lost, through this kind of living?

Biography:
Sarah Banet-Weiser is a Professor in the School of Communication at USC Annenberg and the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity. Her teaching and research interests include feminist theory, race and the media, youth culture, popular and consumer culture, and citizenship and national identity. She teaches courses in culture and communication, gender and media, youth culture, feminist theory and cultural studies.

Her first book, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Beauty Pageants and National Identity (University of California Press: 1999), explores a popular cultural ritual, the beauty pageant, as a space in which national identities, desires, and anxieties about race and gender are played out. She has also authored a book on consumer citizenship and the children’s cable network: Kids R