Digital afterlife and the spiritual realm

Maggi Savin-Baden, University of Worcester, UK 

It is evident that relationships between technologies and the actual content of belief and practice have received little relatively attention and this presentation begins by exploring some of the recent debates in this area. Religions across the world have been one of the main ways of helping people to cope with and make sense of death. What is interesting about the discipline of death studies, as well as the more recent research into digital afterlife, is that they remain largely unconnected with the spiritual side of death and bereavement. This paper also presents the findings from a study that examined how digital media and digital afterlife creation affected understandings of death and the afterlife within religious contexts. It suggests that we are currently experiencing a shift from the digital to the postdigital and this is also resulting in the emergence of postdigital theologies.

This paper will present the findings of a small scale study that used narrative inquiry in order to understand the religious perspectives of experts on religion and afterlife. In practice interviews were undertaken with Ministers, Counsellors, Public Intellectuals, Technology Researchers, Academics, Business leaders. The findings of the study suggest that social media could be changing perspectives on the following areas: Death meanings and practices, Memorialisation, Perspectives on digital afterlife and Theology and persistence. The paper will finish by exploring the impact of the digital on the sacramental and argue for the importance of the emerging field of postdigital theologies.

Speaker Bio

Maggi Savin-Baden is Professor of Higher Education Research at the University of Worcester and has researched and evaluated staff and student experience of learning for over 20 years and gained funding in this area (Leverhulme Trust, JISC, Higher Education Academy, MoD). She has a strong publication record of over 50 research publications and 20 books which reflect her research interests on the impact of innovative learning, digital fluency, cyber-influence, pedagogical agents, qualitative research methods, and problem-based learning. In her spare time, she runs, bakes, climbs, and does triathlons, slowly. She is also lay Reader and on the Church of England Networked Learning Committee

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