Religion and Communication Working Group - Call for Proposals 2021

The Religion and Communication (REC) Working Group of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) invites the submission of proposals for single papers and multi-paper sessions (the online conference equivalent of a panel in a face to face conference) for IAMCR 2021, which will be held online from 11 to 15 July, 2021. The conference will also have a regional hub in Nairobi, Kenya. Both the online conference and the regional hub will be hosted by the Department of Journalism & Corporate Communication of United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) in Nairobi. The deadline for submission is 9 February 2021, at 23.59 UTC.

See the IAMCR 2021 general call for proposals

Conference model: Online with an African "hub" and global satellite activities

In alignment with the possibilities offered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the conference’s main theme, Rethinking Borders and Boundaries, IAMCR 2021’s conference will offer multiple modalities for participation. It will be primarily an online conference but will also have an African “hub” at USIU-Africa, and satellite activities at various points around the globe.The various components of the conference include:

1. Online Conference Papers – Abstracts submitted in response to the section and working groups CfPs will be reviewed by the sections and working groups and accepted authors will be invited to submit short conference papers (1,000 to 4,000 words). These papers will be grouped into sessions and published on the conference website prior to the conference on a platform that will enable discussion the conference.

2. Section and Working Group Online Sessions – IAMCR sections and working groups will curate a number of video sessions highlighting key issues within their thematic areas of specialisation.

3. Flow34 – A stream featuring videos that integrate academic and aesthetic narratives. Proposals for this component will be reviewed by the Flow34 team. Topics can originate from the entire field of Communication and Media Studies. The selected videos will be scheduled and presented on the conference platform.

4. Plenary Sessions – Several plenary sessions streamed from the conference hub at USIU-Africa will feature contributions from around the globe. 

5. Special and Partner Sessions – These video sessions will be produced by IAMCR and its partners. 

6. Nairobi Hub – In addition to being at the centre of the global online activities, the conference hub, at USIU-Africa, will host a regional face-to-face event (in accordance with the possibilities afforded by the pandemic). The regional event will interact with the global at several moments of the conference. 

7. Other Regional/National Hubs – We are currently considering the involvement of other regional and national hubs and will be accepting requests from IAMCR members interested in sponsoring them. 

This call for proposals is for the Online Conference Papers.

IAMCR members will have full access to all online components.


IAMCR conferences address a wide diversity of themes defined by our 33 thematic sections and working groups. We also propose a single central theme to be explored throughout the conference with the aim of generating and exploring multiple perspectives. This theme is addressed in plenary and special sessions, and in some sessions of the sections and working groups. Not all submissions have to address this central theme. 

The central theme for IAMCR 2021, Rethinking borders and boundaries: Beyond the global/local dichotomy in communication studies, is concerned with how changes in communication theory and practice are challenging our understanding of global and local, creating new identities and discourses, and enabling a hybrid glocalisation, with both positive and negative consequences. 

Five sub-themes of this central theme have been identified: The rebirth of populist discourses; Activism and the new global social justice movements; Trends in global media ecosystems; Identity: Gender, class, ethnicity, religion, sexuality; and Communication for development in health, climate change and educationSee the complete theme description and rationale here.

All this has ramifications for the academic study of media and religion. 

The broad conference theme has direct implication for Religion and Spirituality. Religions have for centuries crossed national boundaries. This has only increased today. With the information revolutions such as international broadcasting and the world wide web this has become extenuated.  Communicating faith in the Net is a key motif patterns of religion  the twenty-first century. Moreover, religious hierarchies and within faith traditions are being challenged by on-line religion. All this, has altered how religious identity is constructed today. 

But papers across the broad spectrum of research on the relationship of religion, media and communication, beyond the conference theme,  are equally encouraged. There is hardly an established canon of research in this wide field of religion, communication and culture, although some nuclei in the current research agenda can be identified. These include:

  • Images of religion in mass media; news coverage of religion.
  • Religious communities and the media. 
  • Impact of media on religious practices whether personal or institutional.
  • Theological approaches to the mass media. 
  • New media and religion. 
  • The emergences of the religious according to new mediatic conditions.
  • Film and religion. 
  • Religious media. 
  • Religious public relations. 
  • The specificity of communication practices in religions given their singular content and claims. 
  • Religious communication processes. 
  • Media expression of faith and spirituality. 
  • Re-interpretation of religion in the digital media context
  • Examination of oral  religious ancient communication, scriptures in digital context 
  • Religious communication experiences, religious miracles in the current media explosion
  • Ancient religious communication theories 
  • Communication theories and religion.

Theoretical, methodological, empirical - all approaches are welcome for proposed papers, provided they offer good quality and interesting, novel perspectives in their respective methodological nature.

Guidelines for abstracts

Submitted abstracts will generally be evaluated on the basis of: theoretical contribution; methods; quality of writing; literature review; relevance of the submission to the work of the Working Group; originality and/or significance.

Abstracts submitted to the Religion and Communication Working Group should have between 300 and 500 words and must be submitted online via IAMCR's online submission platform. Abstracts submitted by email will not be accepted.

It is expected that authors will submit only one (1) abstract. However, under no circumstances should there be more than two (2) abstracts bearing the name of the same author, either individually or as first author submitted to the conference. No more than one (1) abstract can be submitted by an author to the Religion and Communication Working Group. Please note also that the same abstract or another version with minor variations in title or content must not be submitted to more than one section or working group. Any such submissions will be deemed to be in breach of the conference guidelines and will be rejected. 

Proposals are accepted for both single papers and multi-paper sessions (the online conference equivalent of a panel in a face to face conference). Please note that there are special procedures for submitting multi-paper sessions. You can find the detailed procedures when submitting your abstract online in the abstract submission system.

If your abstract is accepted, you will need to submit your full conference paper (1,000 to 4,000 words) by 7 June 2021, in order to be included in the programme.


The Religion and Communication Working Group accepts abstracts in English only.

The deadline to submit abstracts is 9 February 2021 at 23h59 UTC.

See important dates and deadlines to keep in mind

For further information about the conference contact nairobi2021 [at]

Please share this notice with other academic researchers on media and religion. 

We look forward to seeing old and new participants in the working group at the online conference.

Chair: Binod Agrawal, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, India (agrawal.binod.c [at]
Vice chair: Yoel Cohen, School of Communication, Ariel University, Israel (ysrcohen [at]
Vice chair (interim): Miriam Diez Bosch, Blanquerna Observatory on Media, Religion & Culture, Ramon Llull University, Spain (MiriamDB [at]