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Virtual Buddhist Monk Robes: Cyborgs, Gender, and the Self-Fashioning of a Mindful Second Life Resident

Gregory Grieve studies virtual clothing in Hoben, a Second Life Zen community. He argues that Second Life residents emerge from their virtual practices where the ability to choose one’s gender, clothing and appearance increases mindfulness and offers a creative alternative to conventional heteronormative roles on both a political and spiritual level.

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Religion, Materiality and Machines in Faouzi Bensaïdi’s Death for Sale

Rebecca Moody interprets Bensaïdi’s 2011 film, Death for Sale, using a variety of perspectives; from the ways that religion influences the materialization of political and economic structures—especially in relation to state institutions—to the link between broken (or breaking) institutions and broken (or breaking) lives, as informed by Deleuze and Guattari, to the struggles of Muslim women in rapidly changing societies. The film uses subtle visual techniques and minimal dialogue to convey the conflicts and fragmentation that commence when two (or more) starkly different ways of life are forced into an uneasy alliance too quickly.

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Let’s Be Noah: Toys as Material Religion

Stefanie Knauss considers the importance of toys in shaping childrens’ embodied conceptions of cultural practices, particularly the significance of religious toys in conveying some of the important characters, ideas, and values of a tradition. She argues that the materiality of toys fosters particular enactments of religious stories but that such exercises are underdetermined; the toys must be a focus of pedagogy for them to take on the particular meanings of a tradition, otherwise, they may simply exist as secular playthings. In short, religious toys present opportunities for teaching about a particular tradition, but are not clearly indicative of such approaches in and of themselves. Knauss sees religious toys as a promising unit of analysis for investigating meaning-making and the interplay of self-determination and group influence in early identity formation.

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