Unfit Christians, Periscope Prophets, and #Beymaculate Conception: Theorizing the Digital Black Church

Erika Gault's picture
Call for Papers
June 15, 2019
United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, Black History / Studies, Journalism and Media Studies, Popular Culture Studies, Religious Studies and Theology

Call for Proposals


The Association for the Study of African American Life and History

Fire!!!!: The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies


Welcomes submissions 

for its


Spring 2020 Special Issue


Unfit Christians, Periscope Prophets, and #Beymaculate Conception:

 Theorizing the Digital Black Church


Erika D. Gault, Ph. D.

Guest Editor 

University of Arizona

Africana Studies


In the past two decades online platforms have offered space for both Black Church insiders and outliers to build an audience, amass a following, and briefly gather users around traditional Black Church practices through hashtags, memes, and social media curation. Such digital work has expanded the contemporary contours of the Black Church. Historically, Black religion has encompassed a fluid and varied set of practices. Black users’ contemporary engagement with digital technology has both broadened and complicated the scholarly understanding of Black religion.  A number of works (c.f. Brock 2012; Florini 2013; Noble 2018; Watkins 2018) provide important theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of black digital use, digital structures of inequality, and counter-discourse production.  On the topic of digital religion, works (c.f. Campbell 2012; Mia Lovheim 2013; Hoover, Echchaibi 2012) have emphasized the importance of digital technology in mediating religious experience. Yet, despite findings that people of African descent are often early adopters of technology, at the intersections of blackness, Christianity and digital technology scholarly work is sparse. 


This Special Issue of Fire!!!seeks to raise a few key inquiries regarding what is called, as a working term, “the digital Black Church.” First, among such inquiries, is there or can there be such a thing as a digital Black Church? Given the varied perspectives regarding who and what constitutes “the Black Church” can we conceive of a patterned and sustained network of Black Church practices that occur across digital platforms? In what context and in what ways do Black Church traditions ‘live’ or are made ‘live’ in the digital practices of online users? What theoretical frameworks for the study of the digital Black Church emerge when we link media, religion, and cultural studies scholarship? While this call highlights social networking platforms, we welcome, as well, papers which tackle various digital expressions of the Black Church and where applicable, Black religion more largely. 


Possible areas of focus or questions include the following:


  • Theory. In what ways do the practices, function, and/or the very notion of the digital Black Church inform our theoretical understanding of Black religion and/or technology? Possible topics might include:
    •  the mediation of meaning, 
    • the mediatization of religion,
    • the digitalization of religion, 
    • the religious and social shaping of technology (RSST);


  • How do we define the digital + Black + Church?


  • More general papers regarding possible approaches to the study of the digital Black Church;


  • Ethnographies. Case studies, single-site observations, text-analysis of blogs, podcast, social media sites, or other forms of digital ethnography; 


  • Mediation.In what ways does digital technology mediate Black peoples’ religious experience?


  • Networked Un/Boundaries. How does the notion of “the Black Church” expand or constrict in the digital? Where are its borders and boundaries? Who and/or what groups or networks and by what means are these borders and boundaries policed and or bought into ‘right practice’?


  • Performance/Embodiment.What does it mean to perform or embody the Black Church or religion online? How does one “do” religion or “be” Black Church in the digital context?


  • Additionally, this Special Issue of the digital journal Fire!!!is pleased to welcome creative and digital intellectual works which move away from the traditional article format. Visual works, video-sharing, video-recordings, and other digital approaches are welcome. 



Deadline for the abstract (max. 500 words) is June 1, 2019.

Deadline for the article is September 15, 2019.

Publication of the issue will be in February 2020.


Contact Information

Please send abstracts and other editorial correspondence to Erika Gault at egault@email.arizona.edu

Contact Info: 

Please send abstracts and other editorial correspondence to Erika Gault at egault@email.arizona.edu

Contact Email: