Forum – February 22, 2019

Hyemin Na

Branding the Sacred: Megachurch Media Practices in Global Korea

Religious communities incorporate digital technology into existing meaning-making processes. As people tune into the weekly online worship services, click around Youtube channels with spiritual content, check for notices in their church apps, and receive tweets from religious leaders, they not only interact with text but their religious experience and digital practices are forged through images and design. In fact, perhaps more than texts, the aesthetic formulations of their digital content may be as formative as the verbal or textual message. There is a long tradition of religious communities negotiating constructions of the sacred through visual aesthetics means.

In this presentation, I provide an overview of how digital media producers of an influential megachurch in Korea create the church’s visual culture to brand their identity and message. I share preliminary insights from ongoing fieldwork to explore the ways globalization, market logics, and phenomena of hypermediation intersect within a specific Protestant congregation. In particular, I offer my research as a case study to explore how the branding enterprise occurs within broader social fields of racial ideologies.

Hyemin Na is a PhD candidate in Religion at Emory University. She is affiliated with the Division of Theology at Hyupsung University as a 2018-2019 Fulbright Junior Researcher. Hyemin studies Christianity through the lens of postcolonial scholarship. Her research interests also include the intersection of religion and media.