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Smithsonian National Museum of American History

1300 Constitution Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20560

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Join noted scholars for a one-day conference exploring the history and intersections of religion and innovation.

Technological breakthroughs have always been deeply intertwined with religious thought and practice. Spiritual leaders have transformed American beliefs by harnessing new technologies, from electric power and the telegraph to television and computers, in order to spread traditional teachings and inspire new religious movements. In turn, many inventors have pointed to religious inspirations for their technological leaps. This pattern continues as innovations in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to gene editing reinvigorate longstanding disputes and raise new ethical concerns.

10:30 a.m. Opening remarks

  • Peter Manseau, Curator of American Religious History

11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Networks: Intersections of information, communication, and religion

  • Jenna Supp Montgomery, University of Iowa
  • Lerone Martin, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Christopher Helland, Dalhousie University

1:15–2:15 p.m. Machines: Connections between technology and religious practice

  • Steven Jones, University of South Florida
  • Leor Halevi, Vanderbilt University
  • Noreen Herzfeld, College of Saint Benedict / Saint John's University

2:30–3:30 p.m. Bodies: Medical innovation and religious interpretations of the human body

  • Sarah Imhoff, Indiana University
  • Hillary Kaell, Concordia University
  • Samira Mehta, Albright College
  • John Modern, Franklin and Marshall College

3:30 p.m. Concluding discussion

  • Arthur Daemmrich, Director of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation


Image: Nam June Paik, TV-Buddha, 1974. Courtesy of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

The National Museum of American History welcomes visitors of all abilities. Requests for accessibility services can be made by phone: 202/633-3150, or email: nmahprograms@si.edu. Two-week’s prior notice is preferred.

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Smithsonian National Museum of American History

1300 Constitution Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20560

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