International conference examines religious phenomena in urban space

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).

The Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies (Kolleg-Forschungsgruppe/KFG) “Religion and Urbanity: reciprocal formations” investigates the historical contribution of religion to urbanization and the long-term co-constitution and co-evolution of religion and the urban. The Centre inquires what role religion has played for urbanity, how urbanity has changed religion, and how they continually influence one another. By focusing on religion, the goal is to gain insight into the formation of human settlements and thereby to describe different paths of urbanization and their inter-relationships with the development of religion (Rau, Rüpke 2020).

A series of conferences explores selected phenomena or concepts in order to lay the ground for further research. Until now, we have explored the concepts of urbanity and religion, heterarchy, co-spatiality, religion in proto-urban phases, neighbourhood religion, death in the city or ‘guides to urbanity’. Information on our bygone conferences and other events can be found on our website or the UrbRel Blog.

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