professor religious studies
Date of appointment 01.09.2011
Inaugural lecture date 19.10.2012

Trained as a cultural anthropologist and working on lived religion in Ghana for more than 20 years, Birgit Meyer studies religion from a global and post-secular perspective. Her research is driven by an urge to make sense of the shifting place and role of religion in our time, and to show that scholarly work in the field of religion is of eminent concern to understanding the shape of our world in the early 21st century. In so doing, she seeks to synthesize grounded fieldwork and theoretical reflection in a broad multidisciplinary setting.Her main research foci are the rise and popularity of global Pentecostalism; religion, popular culture and heritage; religion and media; religion and the public sphere; religious visual culture, the senses and aesthetics.

Scientific expertise
christian missions in West Africa - visual culture - lived religion - pentecostalism - globalisation and popular culture - religion and media - cultural heritage - material religion - religion and post-secular society - the senses - aesthetics
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Curriculum vitae Download PDF




Birgit Meyer studied religious studies and pedagogy (for disabled children) at Bremen University and cultural anthropology at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). After her PhD defense in 1995 she was affiliated with the Research Center Religion and Society (UvA). Between 2004 and 2011 she was professor of cultural anthropology at VU University Amsterdam; since September 2011 she is professor of religious studies at Utrecht University. Between 2000 and 2006 she directed the NWO Pionier programma Modern Mass Media, Religion and the Imagination of Communities. She has conducted research on and published about colonial missions and local appropriations of Christianity, modernity and conversion, the rise of Pentecostalism in the context of neo-liberal capitalism, popular culture and video-films in Ghana, the relation between religion, media and identity, as well as on material religion and the place and role of religion in the 21st century. Her book publications include Translating the Devil. Religion and Modernity Among the Ewe in Ghana (Edinburgh University Press, 1999), Globalization and Identity. Dialectics of Flow and Closure (edited with Peter Geschiere, Oxford: Blackwell, 1999), Magic and Modernity. Interfaces of Revelation and Concealment (edited with Peter Pels, Stanford University Press, 2003), Religion, Media and the Public Sphere (edited with Annelies Moors, Indiana University Press, 2006), and Aesthetic Formations. Media, Religion and the Senses (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Currently, she finishes her book manuscript “Your World is About to Change. Videos, Spirits and the Popular Imagination in Ghana.” She is vice-chair of the International African Institute (London), a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, and one of the editors of Material Religion. In 2010-2011 she was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg), Berlin. In 2011 she was awarded the Anneliese Maier Forschungspreis (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation).


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The publications listed refer to 2011, 2012 and 2013. For a full list of publications see CV.

All publications
  2014 - Scholarly publications
Meyer, B. (2014). Lessons From “Global Prayers”: How Religion Takes Place in the City. In J. Becker, K. Klingan, S. Lanz & K. Wildner (Eds.), Global Prayers. Contemporary Manifestations of the Religious in the City (pp. 590-599) (10 p.). Zurich: Lars Mueller Publishers.
Meyer, Birgit (2014). Mediation and the Genesis of Presence (reprint of inaugural lecture), with a response on comments by Hans Belting, Pamela Klassen, Chris Pinney, Monique Scheer. Religion and Society, 5, (pp. 205-254) (50 p.).
  2013 - Scholarly publications
Meyer, B. & de Witte, M. (2013). Heritage and the Sacred, Special Issue of Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief. London: Bloomsbury Journals.
Meyer, B. & de Witte, M. (2013). Heritage and the Sacred: Introduction. Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief, 9 (3), (pp. 274-280) (7 p.).
Meyer, B. (2013). Material Mediations and Religious Practices of World-making. In K. Lundby (Eds.), Religion Across Media: From Early Antiquity to Late Modernity (pp. 1-19) (19 p.). New York: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers.
Meyer, B. (2013). Mediation and Immediacy. Sensational Forms, Semiotic Ideologies and the Question of the Medium. In J. Boddy & M. Lambek (Eds.), A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion (pp. 309-326) (18 p.). Wiley-Blackwell.
Reusken, C., Ababneh, M., Meyer, B., Eljarah, A., Abutarbush, S., Godeke, G.J., Bestebroer, T.M., Zutt, I., Müller, M.A., Bosch, B.J., Rottier, P.J.M., Osterhaus, A.D.M.E., Drosten, C., Haagmans, B.L. & Koopmans, M.P. (2013). Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) serology in major livestock species in an affected region in Jordan. Eurosurveillance, 18 (50), (pp. 20662) (1 p.).
Reusken, C., Haagmans, B.L., Müller, M.A., Gutierrez, C., Godeke, G.J., Meyer, B., Muth, D., Raj, V.S., Smits-De Vries, L., Corman, V.M., Drexler, J.F., Smits, S.L., El Tahir, Y.E., de Sousa, R., van Beek, J., Nowotny, N., van Maanen, K., Hidalgo-Hermoso, E., Bosch, B.J., Rottier, P.J.M., Osterhaus, A.D., Gortazar-Schmidt, Ch., Drosten, C. & Koopmans, M.P.G. (2013). Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus neutralising serum antibodies in dromedary camels: a comparative serological study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 13, (pp. 859-866) (8 p.).
Reuskens, C., Mou, H., Godeke, G.J., van der Hoek, L., Meyer, B., Müller, M.A., Haagmans, B.L., de Sousa, R., Schuurman, N., Dittmer, U., Rottier, P.J.M., Osterhaus, A., Drosten, C., Bosch, B.J. & Koopmans, M. (2013). Specific serology for emerging human coronaviruses by protein microarray. Eurosurveillance, 18 (4), (pp. 20441) (1 p.).
  2013 - Other output
B. Meyer (15.05.2013). ‘The Prosperity Gospel’ in the spotlight: The appeal of Pentecostalism in West-Africa and the Netherlands. Film screening and discussion. Co-convened with Martha Frederiks and Mechteld Jansen.
B. Meyer (26.09.2013). Capitalism, Religion and the Value of Things. workshop Economy, Morality, Materiality.
B. Meyer (18.03.2013). Habitats and Habitus – Politics and Aesthetics of Religious World Making. workshop of the Research Project Local Dynamics of Globalization.
B. Meyer (11.01.2013). Habitats and Habitus. Politics and Aesthetics of Religious World-Making. Workshop co-organized with Kai Kress. Habitats and Habitus. Politics and Aesthetics of Religious World-Making. Workshop co-organized with Kai Kress.
B. Meyer (23.01.2013). Heritage, Performance and the Every Day. VU University Amsterdam, Event co-organized with Ala Alhourani (UWC), Heike Becker (UWC), David Chidester (UCT), Tigist Hussen (UWC), Duane Jethro (VU University Amsterdam).
B. Meyer (18.04.2013). How Pictures Matter. seminar.
B. Meyer (23.04.2013). How Pictures Matter. seminar.
B. Meyer (27.06.2013). IAI-Panel: Studying Christianity and Islam in Africa. Co-Convened with John Peel. European Conference on African Studies.
B. Meyer (11.01.2013). Key Issues in the Study of Christianity in Africa and Beyond. exploratory workshop Habitats and Habitus: Politics and Aesthetics of Religious World-Making.
B. Meyer (18.09.2013). Past Trajectories – New Directions: The Study of Religion Today. Symposium co-organized with Christoph Baumgartner and Christian Lange.
B. Meyer (14.05.2013). Picturing the occult. How Ghanaian video-movies transfigure the popular Christian imaginary. Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, international colloquium Le rire, l’horreur et la mort. Affiches peintes des vidéoclubs du Ghana. Journée d’étude consacrée au cinéma populaire Ghanéen/Nigérian/Nollywood.
B. Meyer (23.01.2013). Politics of Authentication and Aesthetics of Persuasion. UWC/Cape Town University, Heritage, Performance and the Every Day.
B. Meyer (04.11.2013). Prayer, Architecture, History. Workshop co-organized with Charles Hirschkind.
B. Meyer (12.12.2013). Sensational Pictures. Visual Culture, Objects and the Study of Religion. Heidelberg, Jour Fixe of Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context.
  2012 - Scholarly publications
Bache, F., Popescu, S.-M., Rabineau, M., Gorini, C., Suc, J.-P., Clauzon, G., Olivet, J.-L., Rubino, J.-L., Melinte-Dobrinescu, M.C., Estrada, F., Londeix, L., Armijo, R., Meyer, B., Jolivet, L., Jouannic, G., Leroux, E., Aslanian, D., Reis, A.T.D., Mocochain, L., Dumurdžanov, N., Zagorchev, I., Lesic, V., Tomic, D., Namik Çagatay, M., Brun, J.-P., Sokoutis, D., Csato, I., Ucarkus, G. & Çakir, Z. (2012). A two-step process for the reflooding of the Mediterranean after the Messinian Salinity Crisis. Basin Research, 24 (2), (pp. 125-153) (29 p.).
Meyer, B. (2012). Christianity in Africa: From African Independent to Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches. (shortened reprint of article in Annual Review of Anthropology, with a new epilogue). The Wiley Blackwell Compagnion to African Religions. (pp. 153-170) (18 p.). Oxford and Malden: Blackwell.
Meyer, B. (2012). Comment on T. Luhrman, A Hyperreal God and Modern Belief. Toward and Anthropological Theory of Mind. Current Anthropology, 53 (4), (pp. 388-389) (2 p.).
de Witte, M. & Meyer, B. (2012). Entertainment Media and Visual Aesthetics in Ghana. Civilisations, 61 (1), (pp. 43-64) (22 p.).
Meyer, B. (2012). Introduction. Material Religion – How Things Matter. Things: Religion and the Question of Materiality. (pp. 1-23) (23 p.). New York: Fordham University Press.
Meyer, B. (2012). Religious and Secular, ‘Spiritual’ and ‘Physical’ in Ghana. What Matters? Ethnographies of Value in a (Not So) Secular Age. (pp. 86-118) (33 p.). Columbia University Press (SSRC-series).
Meyer, B. (2012). Religious Sensations: Media, Aesthetics, and the Study of Contemporary Religion. (shortened version of Religious Sensations, 2008). Religion, Media and Culture: A Reader. (pp. 159-170) (12 p.). Routledge.
Meyer, B. & Houtman, D. (2012). Things. Religion and the Question of Materiality. New York: Fordham.
Meyer, B. (2012). Unexpected Synergies. Contribution to In Conversation “Locating the Textual Gaze. Then and Now”. Material Religion, 8 (4), (pp. 530-531) (2 p.).
  2012 - Other output
B. Meyer (27.10.2012). • Moving Pictures. Videos, Spirits and the Popular Imagination in Ghana. Edinburgh University, Department of Social Anthropology.
B. Meyer (31.05.2012). Creativity in Transition. Politics and Aesthetics of Circulating Images (with Maruska Svasek & Rhoda Woets),. symposium.
B. Meyer (05.06.2012). Cultural politics and the perils of belonging (with Irene Stengs and Heike Becker). Masterclass.
B. Meyer (15.02.2012). Film as Revelation. University of Oslo, Public Lecture.
B. Meyer (14.09.2012). Habitus and Habitats, Politics and Aesthetics of Religious Worldmaking. Heidelberg, Lecture held at the occasion of the Anneliese Maier Award Ceremony, Heidelberg University.
B. Meyer (22.06.2012). Material Mediations. Politics and Aesthetics of Religious World Making. München, LMU.
B. Meyer (13.02.2012). Material Mediations: Religion in the World, Keynote, Conference Religion Across Media. University of Oslo, Theoretical Perspectives and Case Studies.
B. Meyer (26.10.2012). Mediation and the Genesis of Presence. Towards a Material Approach of Religion. Edinburgh, Munro Lecture, Edinburgh University.
Meyer, B. (19.10.2012). Mediation and the genesis of presence. Towards a material approach to religion. (56 p.). Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht.
B. Meyer (18.10.2012). Mediation, Materiality and the Study of Religion. symposium.
B. Meyer (04.05.2012). Mediation: Forms and Formats of World-Making Keynote, Sant Naf Konferens on Mediation. Conference of the Swedish and Norwegian Anthropological Associations.
B. Meyer (03.07.2012). Moving Pictures. Videos, Spirits and the Popular Imagination in Ghana. Georg August Universität Göttingen, Department of Anthropology.
B. Meyer (23.05.2012). New Directions in the Study of Pentecostalism (with Martha Frederiks & Henri Gooren). symposium.
B. Meyer (31.03.2012). Religie als menselijke schepping. Utrecht University, Lecture Universiteitsdag.
  2011 - Scholarly publications
Meyer, B. (2011). Going and Making Public. Some Reflections on Pentecostalism as Public Religion in Ghana. Christianity and Public cluture in Africa Columbus: Ohia University Press.
Meyer, B., Morgan, D., Paine, C. & Plate, S.B. (2011). Introduction: Key Words in Material Religion. Material Religion, 7 (1), (pp. 4-9) (6 p.).
Meyer, B. (2011). Mediating Absence - Effecting Spiritual Presence. Pictures and the Christian Imagination. "Image as Action, Image in Action". Social research, 78.
Meyer, B. (2011). Mediation and Immediacy. Sensational Forms, Semiotic Ideologies and the Question of the Medium. Social anthropology, 19 (1), (pp. 23-39) (17 p.).
Meyer, B., Morgan, D., Paine, C. & Plate, S.B. (2011). Medium. Material Religion, 7 (1), (pp. 58-67) (10 p.).
  2011 - Professional publications
Meyer, B. (2011). Self-contained. Glamorous Houses and Modes of Personhood in Ghanaian Video-movies. Bodies of Belonging. Inhabiting Worlds in Rural West Africa.
  2009 - Scholarly publications
Meyer, B., Choppy, C., Staunstrup, J. & van Leeuwen, J. (2009). Research Evaluation for Computer Science. Communications of the ACM, 52 (4), (pp. 31-34) (4 p.).
  0 - Other output
B. Meyer (0). Mediation and Mediatization – Concepts of Time and Space.
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Research projects in progress

2012-2016: Habitus and Habitat. Politics and Aesthetics of Religious World-Making. Project hosted by the Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, in collaboration of the Department of Religious Studies and Theology, Utrecht University (2 PhD-students).

2010-2013: Cultural performance, belonging and citizenship in contemporary South Africa Sanpad project 10-13, I am the “Dutch partner,” in colaboration with Dr Heike Becker, University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

2010-2013: Creativity and Innovation in a World of Movement (CIM),  with Maruska Svasek (Belfast, Project leader, BM is the PI for the NL-subproject), [2 part-time postdocs]. 

2008-2013 Research grant (principal investigator) by NWO for the research program ‘Heritage Dynamics: Politics of Authentication and Aesthetics of Persuasion in Brazil, Ghana, South Africa and the Netherlands’ [3 Phd students, 1 postdoc].

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Currently prof. dr. Birgit Meyer teaches the following course(s):
RT2V13001 Sociology of Religion V 2 7.5
RS2V14001 Antropologie van de religie V 2 7.5
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Additional functions and activities
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Full name
prof. dr. B. Meyer Contact details
Janskerkhof 13

Janskerkhof 13
Room 101
The Netherlands

Phone number (direct) +31 30 253 3838
Postal address
Janskerkhof 13
3512 BL    UTRECHT
The Netherlands

spreekuur op afspraak

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Last updated 27.09.2014