Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Holly Gayley

Second Advisor

Nabil Echchaibi

Third Advisor

Deborah Whitehead

Fourth Advisor

Stewart Hoover

Abstract

Smartphones have become constantly-present tool for news information, gaming, music and online communication. Users can tap into digital versions of their interests and activities, using smartphone applications (apps). But with this new medium comes changes in how certain practices are represented and enacted. In this thesis, I introduce and focus on the term “mobile mindfulness,” arguing that David McMahan’s elements of Buddhist modernism are intensified when practicing religion on the smartphone. These “mobile mindfulness” characteristics include the creation of transient experimental places of “play,” religious gamification, and increased individualization. After presenting examples of how Buddhist websites, virtual realities and smartphone apps intensify specific aspects of Buddhist modernism, I define what I mean by the term “mobile mindfulness,” through the analysis of two specific meditation apps, buddhify and ReWire. In these case studies, I show how digital religion on the smartphone is changing how users practice – and view – meditation in modernity.

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