Religion at SXSW: 10 Inclusive Sessions

The Forrest Four-Cast: February 24, 2017

The international community of digital creatives who attend SXSW each March in Austin have many different passions, including exploring all the implications of 21st century spirituality. To this end, we are very excited about these sessions at the 2017 that reflect this interest:

  1. Authentic Muslim Voices Tell Their Stories. What do people of Muslim-world backgrounds hope non-Muslim audiences can know about them? What changes do people of Muslim-world backgrounds hope to impact within their own communities? Learn more at this fascinating all-female panel. Scheduled Monday, March 13 at the Austin Convention Center.
  2. Bible Study Meet Up. Take a break from all of the noise to spend time in the Word. All denominations are welcome! Scheduled Sunday, March 12 at the JW Marriott.
  3. Compassionate Disruption: The Vatican & Innovation. If your community numbers over 1.2 billion people and you’ve been in operation for over 2,000 years, then there’s a lot to consider when it comes to integrating new media and technology. This panel features Bishop Paul Tighe, who serves as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He will be the first-ever Vatican representative at SXSW. Scheduled Sunday, March 12 at the Hyatt Regency.
  4. Faith & Technology Meet Up. Occurring in the timeslot before the “Compassionate Disruption” session, get together with other SXSW attendees who share are interested in exploring spirituality 2.0. Scheduled Sunday, March 12 at the Hyatt Regency.
  5. From Trump to Trolls: How Muslim Media Fights Back. Having to defend, explain and rebut trolls, extremists, and otherwise well-intentioned folks who’ve been fed ignorance and fear is exhausting. Those of us who have been successful in taking a stand against this hate speech want to share our best practices with you. Scheduled Tuesday, March 14 at the Hyatt Regency.
  6. A Global Muslim Startup Ecosystem Emerges. One of the most unique global markets that is emerging today is the global Muslim market. As this market increasingly takes on uniform behaviors and habits, how can we address these market needs in ways that respect this new identity yet avoid the pitfalls of commercialization, geopolitical strife, and increased anti-Muslim sentiment? Scheduled Friday, March 10 at the JW Marriott.
  7. Gutenberg to Google: How Tech Can Transform Faith. This session will explore why it’s essential to address the online needs of people of faith, including those of some faith or none at all. Answering President Obama’s call at last year’s SXSW for technologists to tackle global social issues, they’ll explore how tech can help people on their spiritual journeys. Speakers include Sally Quinn who is the founding editor of OnFaith.co. This site is a spin-off of “On Faith,” which was an interactive feature on religion at The Washington Post which she founded eight years ago. Scheduled Wednesday, March 15 at the JW Marriott.
  8. Meditation & Mindfulness in Today’s Changing World. This workshop will begin and end with short meditation sessions. We’ll discuss a high-level history of meditation, practical benefits of meditation, and simple meditation techniques that can be used virtually anywhere. Presented twice during SXSWeek. Part 1 occurs Friday, March 10 at the Westin, while Part 2 occurs, Tuesday, March 14 the Westin.
  9. Muslim Girl Comes of Age. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh responded to the 9/11 tragedy by creating a space for Muslim women to talk back to negative, inaccurate media representations of people who share their faith. Muslimgirl.com is the most-read platform for Muslim women’s voices in the West and an inspiration to a generation of women making their voices heard. Attend this solo presentation to hear more of her story. Scheduled Monday, March 13 at the JW Marriott.
  10. The Secret Life of Muslims. There are approximately 3.3 million Muslims in the USA and 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Yet, most Muslim characters in film and television are narrowly portrayed and most news stories focus on the same stereotypes. This panel will explore how a popular digital series directly challenges the misrepresentation and homogenization of Muslims in popular film and television and the media. Scheduled Sunday, March 12 at the Austin Convention Center.

Other Muslim-related sessions at SXSW 2017 include “Beyond the Burkini Ban: Sport & Social Justice” with Ibtihaj Muhammad on Saturday, March 11 and “Influencing Impact: Through Story and Innovation” with Noor Tagouri on Friday, March 10.

Also be sure to attend the “Trolls: Lessons from Online Anti-Semitism’s Rise” panel on Sunday, March 12 at the Hyatt Regency. This session features Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone, who will also be part of the Open Shabbat meal during SXSW. This year’s Open Shabbat is dedicated to the memory of longtime attendee Alan Weinkrantz, who passed away over the summer.

Watch the sizzle reel to better understand SXSW 2017. Learn more about this year’s improved badge system by viewing this short video. Most importantly, be part of all the discovery that March Magic in Austin has to offer by purchasing a badge for this year’s event.

Hugh Forrest tries to write four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts generally cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith or meditating, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.