Research Projects

The City in the History of Religion (Individual Project in the scope of KFG Religion und Urbanität)

If "Religion" can be fruitfully conceptualized as communication, the space of communication as context and as result of such communication is crucial. It is in this perspective that the project investigates urban space as context and result of religious communication. How is religion used by different agents to appropriate (and that is to say, create) urban space? How does this specific religious agency shape and change urban space over time? And how does the urban context change practices of religious communication and the ensuing forms of sacralization? These questions are tackled by focusing on the co-constitution between religion and urbanity as successful cross-cultural strategies of handling, boosting, and buying into human sociality. In contrast to approaches that are focusing on competition of religious groups in claiming public space, our approach takes thus a broader historical or even evolutionary approach. In working out the entangled shaping of urban space and religion by individual and collective agents, we intend to use the concepts of crafting space, citification and hyper-diversity.

We aim at mapping the different functions offered by religious action in the realm of services provided, governance supported, and practices enabling people to relate to space. For ancient cities, we might hypothesize that ritual and textual religious practices provided important tools for the creation of a highly complex, shared, and divided space called “city”. For modern cities, the analysis of the use of objects and the sacralization of time offers comparative perspectives.

By the term “citification” we point to something different from “urbanization” processes. The latter term designates the wider and prior sets of phenomena revolutionizing human societies and sociability by concentrating increasing rates of population within dense sheer sized and organized areas. The former defines the processes by which urbanized religious agents carry on religious actions succeeding in appropriating urban spaces over time in a way that presumes and demands already fully urbanized contexts.

Modern metropolises are sensitive to hyper-diversity in terms of religion and ethnicity. This often implies the support of a normative framework that usually advocates the positive value of cultural and religious diversity. We will try to further an inquiry into religious practices that go beyond the normative framework of public, acknowledged rituals by rather looking into how religious diversity is performed and which ritual background it exploits, supports, and invented.

The project is pursued in cooperation with Rubina Raja, Centre for Urban Network Evolutions, University of Aarhus, and Susanne Rau, RaumZeit-Forschungsgruppe, Historisches Seminar, Universität Erfurt.

Individuelles religiöses Handeln zwischen legitimer Pluralität und Devianz (DE)

Closed Projects