Doctoral project: Shinto and Soft Power: Pop-culture diplomacy and Aesthetics of Religion in the Digital Age

Shinto has an interesting aesthetic presence online, all from official Shinto establishment websites to pop-cultural engagement on the “Shinto-esque” on YouTube; this project aims via digital tools and multimodal discourse analysis take an aesthetics of religions approach to understand the design, production, and distribution of knowledge about Shinto online.

Project information

Doctoral student
Martin van der Linden
Jonas Svensson
Assistant supervisor
Beate Schirmacher
The study of religion, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

More about the project

My research project studies aesthetic knowledge production and dissemination about Shinto on the Internet. The project seeks to understand how the digital sphere influences, shapes, produces and distributes knowledge about Shinto online, with particular interest in the aesthetics of religion and multimodal and intermedial patterns, structures, and relations at work therein.

I will especially be looking at which aesthetics of knowledge structures, hierarchies of authority and semiotics modes are present, are highlighted or disappear when different websites produce information about Shinto. The different ways of presentation on these websites, blogs and other digital media online will also be related to the concept of “soft power” and how specific notions of environmentalist Shinto are aesthetically produced and disseminated online through both popular culture and other forms of "soft power" attraction.

The material will exist out of a curated collection of online material existing out of everything from official websites belonging to Shinto establishment organizations to un-official YouTube videos and Wikipedia articles. The project will by way of data mining collect a vast database of this material and via digital tools break down and categorize the datasets to allow for both distant reading of the data and close reading of specific cases and connect the differing data points to identify an overarching structure that can help map the dissemination of knowledge. By creating these maps, I will be able to compare aesthetic and rhetoric structures within the material at large perform a multimodal discourse analysis of how these structures are produced, designed, and disseminated.

The project is part of the research in Linnaeus University Centre for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies (IMS)