Travis Cooper holds a double PhD in Religious Studies and Anthropology and lectures at Butler University. His book project, The Digital Evangelicals: Contesting Authority and Authenticity after the New Media Turn, examines religious boundary maintenance strategies in the era of social media. His current research focuses on the various social architectures that structure everyday American life-worlds, rituals, and traditions—systems ranging from media ideologies and print culture to the ideologies of urban design and the built environment. An ethnographer of the American Midwest, he studies (sub)urban habitudes, residential and religious architecture, and the anthropology of the modern.
"While Hollywood often takes a critical stance in the name of provocation and artistic freedom, scholars of particular social and cultural groups often find themselves working against the grain of collective assumptions." In one melancholic and chilling scene in director Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), leading man Brad Pitt’s rendition of the famous American outlaw sits outside his Missouri home.
It might help to consider what exactly terms like “The Emerging Church Movement” (ECM) and its terminological correlates (e.g., emerging, emergence, or emergent) intend to describe. Social scientists frequently employ contested categories or concepts (Beckford 2003, 13) in the description and analysis of ethnographic data. In other words, a conceptual gap often exists between emic self-description and etic secondary formulation. Informants don’t always acknowledge or accept scholarly terms and definitions.
Finbarr Curtis’s recent book, The Production of American Religious Freedom (2016), defies easy categorization. Melding social theory, interpretive biography, revisionist intellectual history, literary analysis, film analysis, and the study of discourse and rhetoric, the book issues a much needed social constructionist inquiry into the largely taken-for-granted concept of “freedom”
When it comes to media and the study of religion, Travis Cooper says "scholars need to ask more compelling questions, moving beyond overly simplistic binaries and dualisms to think in terms of scales and networks, degrees and systems, connection and difference."