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"Rethinking Digital Religion, AI and Culture"

SARAS Department, Sapienza University of Rome, 00185 Roma, Italy Interests: sociology of religion; sociology of communication


Dear Colleagues,

Religious or belief organizations address artificial intelligence mostly with two approaches. On the one hand, they defend themselves against oppressive and repressive potential or the legitimate use of AI technologies: China's high-tech surveillance of the Uighur community in Xinyang is an extreme yet realistic and exportable example of how AI could be used to the detriment of the freedom of religion or belief. On the other hand, religious or belief organizations position themselves in the debate on the regulation of AI by providing ethical principles that can be implemented for the sake of human-centered Artificial Intelligence. The participation of religious organizations in the consultation on the White Paper on AI of the European Union (2020) provides a clear example of this second approach.

In this polarized frame this Special Issue aims to explore the different theoretical and practical approaches which position religious or belief communities at extremes poles or at the middle gradients of this polarization. Religions indeed have various agency in shaping AI technology, and contributors are invited to provide case studies where it is possible to observe doctrinal and practical involvement in religious communities to the AI debate and the level of their agency in designing, developing, or applying the AI of the future.

Relevant proposals can address the following suggested (but not exclusive) topics:
  • How religious communities and leaderships use AI to reinvent or perpetuate themselves within a globalized culture;

  • How AI can spread, foster, and shape religious symbols, values, and practices;

  • How AI can construct realities that mediate and define new religious relationships, sacred spaces, and objects;

  • Which and how religious groups or institutions oppose techno-mediated or AI-mediated religious practices;

  • How the re-enchantment effect of AI contributes to the construction of new religious or spiritual meanings leading to the new human empowerment conception;

  • How the negotiation between religious values and technological innovation can promote original uses or implementations of AI technology.

Abstracts of 200 words maximum should be submitted to the Guest Editor at alessandra.vitullo@uniroma1.it by 30 September 2023. Accepted abstracts will be notified via email by October. Full-length articles of about 6000 words including references are due by 31 December 2023.

Dr. Alessandra Vitullo Guest Editor


Manuscript Submission Information


Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

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