(text and picture from UU News)
After winning the Faculty of Humanities’ prize for best research master’s thesis last year, Veerle Dijkstra (RMA Religious Studies) has now also been awarded the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities’ (KHWB) thesis prize. For her master’s thesis ‘Going Digital: Corona as a Lens onto the Dynamics of Religious Mediation in Four Christian Church Communities in the Netherlands’, she received the Jan Brouwer Thesis Prize Religious Studies and Theology.
Embracing digital media
In her thesis, Dijkstra examined how four Christian church communities in Utrecht used digital media during the COVID-19 pandemic. How did they ensure that they could continue their religious practices and worship, while it was not possible to meet physically?
Dijkstra attended a large number of (online) church services and spoke with dozens of people involved. In the analysis of her findings, she reflects on the role media play in the practices of religious communities, but also on the role of mediation in general.
A crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic can serve as an opportunity to rethink ‘self-evident’ practices and ideas, Dijkstra concluded. For example, many members of the four religious communities experienced a sense of lack while attending worship services online. This caused them to look at religious experience from a new perspective.
A finely detailed analysis
The jury writes: “Dijkstra’s finely detailed analysis of four groups that are very similar, have to adapt to the same circumstances, but deal with them from their own historical and identity perspectives and draw different conclusions, not only clarifies existing differences between these communities, but also the role of mediation in religion.”
“And this in turn, as befits an excellent thesis, raises exciting questions for further discussion – into how this is dealt with post-corona, into comparison with other strongly interrelated communities – religious and non-religious – and into the role of materiality and media in Protestant circles”.
Jan Brouwer Thesis Prize
The Jan Brouwer Thesis Prize has been awarded annually in eight categories to humanities or social science theses since 2015. By doing so, the KHMW hopes to encourage multidisciplinary society-oriented research that provides insight into concrete social problems and has the potential to contribute to their solution.