About Spiritual Technologies Project
The Spiritual Technologies Project seeks to generate, document, and transmit performative practices that unify and transform individuals and groups of people. The project will manifest through recordings, writing, and live laboratories in which artists, culture bearers, and other creative practitioners explore old and new tools for personal and collective transformation.
In contrast to mechanical or digital devices, spiritual technologies are repeated cultural practices meant to alter the mind, body, or spirit of an individual or community. They are developed and cultivated for the explicit purpose of connecting people with each other and with their environment. In the process, all is transformed, linked, and expanded. From throat singing to yogic chant to house music’s origins to Afrobeat’s pulsing rhythms, cultures throughout the world develop embodied repertoires of performance to reimagine self and collective in order to create new realities.
The STP seeks to expand conceptions of technology in part to recognize the important contributions traditional cultures have made to (post-)modernity. Language here is specific. Technology is any tool – object, process, system, or practice – not only an electrically powered or computer-based machine. With communities of color often seen as “backward” and traditional cultural practices seen as “ancient” (read: opposed the “current” or “contemporary”), to declare marginalized communities as having developed and currently possessing spiritual technologies is an important political assertion.
In a world increasingly reliant on digital technologies for artistic production, culture making, and communication, the Spiritual Technologies Project asks:
When we perform traditions born out of historical struggle, what can we (re)learn and repurpose to address contemporary social justice struggles?
We hope that this project will benefit the larger fields of arts, culture, and social justice by addressing critical questions about the role of traditional cultural practice in contemporary fights for justice and adding to the body of literature about the intersection of performance and politics.
Areas of Inquiry
Studies aimed to document and share information about cultural technologies and their practitioners. Projects have ranged from ethnographic investigations of churches in the Southern U.S. to analyses of folkloric song texts.
Creation of new artistic works illuminating STP themes and drawing on included practices. Music, dance, and theatrical pieces have been presented in venues around the U.S.
Community-based gatherings in which research and performance projects are shared. Workshops have been offered in venues including community spaces and universities.