Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations Blog

Urban and religious change: A comparative perspective

Jörg Rüpke. Religious change and changes of urbanity (summarizing urban practices and reflexive urban imaginations) must be analysed in their mutual dependency to give better accounts of both, urban history and religious history. Many crucial developments in local and trans-local religion and religions need to be reviewed with regard to their specifically urban conditionality. At the same time, such urban conditions and the very discourses and practices that defined conditions as urban have not been “independent variables” for religious change but are themselves in part the outcome of religious practices and agents.

Digging, uncovering, unearthing: Activist and academic approaches to Irish Magdalene Laundries

How did aspects of gender, faith and class interplay in Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries? And which position do they occupy in Irish discourse today? The article charts both activist and academic approaches to the Magdalen Laundries in the past decades, and how aspects of gender, faith and class interplayed in them.

Call for Applications: Fellowships 2025-2026

The Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences/ Kolleg-Forschungsgruppe “Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations“ currently invites applications for research fellowships (3-6 months) in the period of 01.04.2025 to 30.09.2026.

Woad and Indigo: A Story of Two Cities, Two Continents and Decolonisation

Our former fellow Shail Mayaram on the two colours blue: Having lived with indigo for some four decades in India, I delighted in Erfurt’s own blue colour, called woad. Woad is a very distinct blue, as in the napkin that graced my table of my IBZ (the University’s International Guest House) flat, a Christmas gift from my friend, the KFG Fellow, Raminder Kaur.

Subjective and Objective Urbanity?

Mariia Orobinska, a former fellow with us in Erfurt, approaches the concept of urbanity from the angle of paradigmatic analysis in linguistics. It establishes the relationship between subjective and objective aspects of urbanity, which is viewed as a unique feature of a given place and characterized through “charm”, “atmosphere”, and “aesthetics”.

Epsita Halder awarded prize for “Reclaiming Karbala”

Our fellow Dr Epsita Halder, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University (Kolkata), was awarded a prize by the Indian History Congress at its latest session at Kakatiya University in Waragal for her monograph “Reclaiming Karbala – Nation, Islam and Literature of the Bengali Muslisms”

The Waqf: Where Religion Meets Urbanity

Our former fellow Elyse Semerdijan on the waqf in Aleppo as spaces where religion and urbanity intersect. Recognizing pious endowments – waqf/awaqf – varied across the Islamic World. The waqf, in its most basic definition, is a registered piece of income-generating property donated to a religious foundation, a charitable cause, or to one’s heirs in perpetuity.

From a letter to an oppressive symbol – notes on >Z<

Our fellow Claudine Moulin on the metamorphoses of the letter >Z< in the current war on Ukraine. At first glance, Z is thus doubly coded in the context of the Ukraine invasion – once in a pro-Putin / pro-Russian context, once in the context of its interpretation as a symbol of Russian totalitarianism and a war of aggression in violation of international law.

Hanafi Law and Urbanization in Mughal India

Hanafi law, one of the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence, which was widely practiced in the Ottoman Empire, was also the imperial legal system of the Mughal Empire (1526-1857) in South Asia. Hanafi law governed property rights of Muslims and non-Muslims alike in the rural and the urban spheres of the Mughal Empire. Unfortunately, research on Hanafi law in Mughal India, in its theoretical and practical perspectives, remains virtually inexistant in current historiography. In this blogpost, I sketch the salient features of the relation between law and Mughal urban practices.

Emotional Urban Apes – A Different Take on Religion and Urbanity

At the core of the research group Religion and Urbanity at the Max Weber Centre in Erfurt lies a keen interest in the ascription of value to different life forms relating to city and civic life, that is urbanity. Yet such valorisations do not necessarily presuppose one’s physical presence in a city. One may live a perfectly happy life in a villa rustica at a safe distance from interactions with the ‘masses’, but nevertheless – and presumably for that very reason – attributing urbanity to one’s own lifestyle by assuring oneself that true civil life is not found within the city, but either outside it or in the outskirts of it at the Sans souci.

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