Blurring Boundaries: Diffusing and Creating Urban Religion beyond Urban Space

Organisers: Emiliano UrciuoliJörg Rüpke
23.-26. November 2021, Weimar

Original announcement

Under the title "Blurring Boundaries: Diffusing and Creating Urban Religion beyond Urban Space", the Kolleg Research Group (KFG) "Religion and Urbanity: Mutual Formations" at the University of Erfurt invites you to an international conference from 23 to 26 November. It will be organised by Professor Jörg Rüpke and Dr Emiliano Urciuoli and will take place at Ettersburg Castle (Weimar).

This conference intends to explore possible avenues of research and sources for the study of religious phenomena associated with or produced in urban space but diffused beyond and customized outside cities.

This conference is an invitation to think “urban religion” as a processual category that captures attempts to blur as well as to stress any topographical boundary between supposedly rural and urban religious traditions. We are not looking for fixing origins to given territorial habitats or confining survivals to certain spatial determinants (thus engaging in the production of urbanity and rurality ourselves). Instead, we are interested in observing and interpreting the ongoing traffic of religious signs, carriers, practices, and institutions across a more or less externally demarcated city border, thus testing their changes under different socio-spatial conditions.

Within the wide range of possible movements, in this exploratory conference our focus is on the direction of diffusion out of cities and towns directly into their hinterlands. Based on our group’s research framework, we are interested in questions as:

  • Which religious phenomena are diffused outside of the city?
  • How are they marked or perceived or “unseen” as urban?
  • Who are the agents of diffusion? How do they relate to the rest of rural societies?
  • Under what conditions is religious change induced beyond such agents?
  • How is change conceptualised, perhaps explicitly justified in spatial terms, that is, how is it renegotiated as either urban or rural?
  • How does such rurality in religious terms produce repercussions in urban religion?
  • How do such processes produce (our) sources and their legibility?

With contributions by Handan Aksünger-Kizil (Vienna), Roberto Alciati (Florence), William Elison (Santa Barbara), Laszlo Ferenczi (Prague), Audrey Ferlut (Lyon), Valentino Gasparini (Madrid), Barbara Happe (Jena), Jens-Uwe Hartmann (Munich), Marietta Horster (Mainz), Elisa Iori (Erfurt), Sara Keller (Erfurt), Rachna Mehra (Delhi), Katharina Mersch (Bochum), Jörg Rüpke & Emiliano R. Urciuoli (Erfurt), Yogesh Snehi (Delhi), Marika Vicziany (Melbourne), Benno Werlen (Jena), Ingrid Würth (Potsdam).

Table of Contents

  • Urban Religion Beyond the City - Jörg Rüpke & Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli
  • Releasing Urban Religion Beyond the City Wall: The Case of Ancient Buddhism - Elisa Iori
  • The Monastery as a Space of Urban Relationships outside the City: The Case of the Jura - Roberto Alciati
  • From the Wilderness into Town and Back to the Countryside - Jens-Uwe Hartmann
  • Rural Minds in Urban Settings - Laszlo Ferenczi
  • Urbanity and Rurality as Geographical Practices - Benno Werlen
  • Under the Sign of Religion: Colonialism, Caste, and Cosmopolitanism in Late Nineteenth-Century Bombay - William Ellison
  • The Political Economy of Koli Religions: The Blurring of City and Country, Water and Land, Koli and Non-Koli Religions - Marika Vicziany
  • Bat your Lashes. Thibilis’ Magistrates Making Eyes at the “Libyan” God Bacax in the Cave of Ghar Djemaa (Bouhamdane, Guelma, Algeria) - Valentino Gasparini
  • Migration of Hydro-Spaces in Medieval India - Sara Keller
  • Urban Ideas in Rural Cemeteries in the 16th and 19th Century - Barbara Happe
  • Between City and Countryside: The Beginnings of the Servite Order in Germany - Ingrid Würth
  • Faith in Motion: Spatial Dynamics of Belief and Praxis in Rural-Urban India - Rachna Mehra
  • From Ram Tirath to Valmiki Tirath: The Making of Valmiki Religious Identity in Amritsar - Yogesh Snehi
  • Perforating Urban Boundaries with Processions in the High and Late Middle Ages - Katherina Mersch
  • Cem-Rituals: Moving Urban Ideas into Village Religion - Handan Aksünger-Kizil
  • Urban Religion in Ancient Rural Contexts in the Roman Provinces: The Case of Nehalennia - Audrey Ferlut



Further Information