Self-Positioning and Appropriation of New Media Among Prophetic Ministries in Botswana

Monday, 16 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Gabriel FAIMAU, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
In the past two decades or so, Botswana has witnessed a spectacular growth of prophetic Christianity. As of May 2015, Botswana already had 1,936 registered churches, most of which fall into the category of Pentecostal charismatic churches and prophetic ministries. In recent years, Botswana has also experienced a media revolution through the emerging use of new media. While studies have generally focused on either the growth of Pentecostal Charismatic Christianity or the new media revolution, little attention has been paid to the characteristics of the emerging prophetic ministries, entailing the appropriation of new media and technical innovations by prophetic ministries and how this has accelerated the development of religious expressions and practices. In light of positioning and mediatization theories, this paper examines the following questions: In what ways do prophetic ministries position themselves and shape the religious landscape of Botswana? To what extent are prophetic ministries adopting and appropriating the use of new media technologies? What roles do the new media play in expanding religious discourses and practices among prophetic ministries in Botswana? This paper advances two related propositions: firstly, power dynamics of a religious institution depends on how such an institution “positions” and “places” itself in a given society. Secondly, new media open an avenue for social acceleration of religious practices through the digitization of religious resources and discourses. While suggesting that new media have been used as tools for self-positioning, the paper further argues that the synergy between prophetic ministries and technological developments of new media opens a new space for cultural production of religious practices and experiences. Moreover, digitization effort of prophetic ministries through the use of new media does not only function as a way of archiving religious resources, discourses and messages but also a way of affirming and reinforcing religious authority and institutional identity.