Animals in/and the City (City Walk 12)

On the 17th of April, we went on our twelfth city walk, which revolved around animals in the city and the animal turn. At three stops in the city of Erfurt we discussed different aspects of how animals are recognisable in the mutual formation of religion and urbanity. Frédéric Vandenberghe, Jörg Rüpke, Aileen Becker, and Heinrich Lang gave short presentations at the Natural History Museum on the Animal Turn in general and animals adapting to urban lifestyles; the St. Crucis Church on animals in biblical stories and displaying them in religious architecture, and finally at the Krämerbrücke (merchants bridge) on animals as resources in urban life.

Walking to our first stop, the Natural History Museum of Erfurt (Image: Mika Hagedorn)

Standing in front of the big artificial tree in the Natural History Museum, Frédéric Vandenberghe gave an introduction with an sociologists view to the Animal Turn. He focused on how worldviews aren’t static but can change. Considering the position of humans in the Animal World rather than animals living in the Human World can convert our way of thinking. Jörg Rüpke invited us to think about the entanglement of Nature and Urbanity on our way to the second stop within the museum by taking the stairs, which led us on a higher floor while going in circles around the tree.

Frédéric Vandenberghe on the animal turn at the Natural History Museum (Image: Mika Hagedorn)

On our way upstairs we passed various animals, like Birds, Rabbits, and Ants, which were talked about as state-forming insects by Jörg Rüpke. Looking at mice and rats upstairs, he opened the discussion on how adaptable certain animals are to urban lifestyles. Especially rats are known for using the space, which is created through urban accommodations, as their habitat. In a drastic way, they are known for living in cities and spreading diseases. While thinking about animals, that encounter urban spaces and cross boundaries between wild- and urban life, stories about wild boars, foxes, and monkeys in India were shared by the group.

Talking about the split view on animals as work animals, wildlife or sacred animals, the discussion hinted at the topics, that were tackled at our next stops.

Searching for animals in the iconographic programme of St Crucis (Image: Mika Hagedorn)

Happily, spared by the rain, we then made our way to St. Crucis Church. Here the connection between animals and Religion were the focus point. Aileen Becker gave us an input on the church, its architectural particularities as well as animals in biblical stories. We had the opportunity to look around the rich baroque interior of St. Crucis and searched for animals within the iconographic programme. Among others, we were able to find donkeys, doves, a pelican, and even dogs.

Dogs in the iconographic programme in St Crucis (Image: Mika Hagedorn)

Going to our last stop our focus was shifted from the religious view back to more urban aspects. At the Krämerbrücke, Heinrich Lang presented what tax archives tell us about the economic use of animals in the city. Animals were recognisable at markets, slaughterhouses and in stables within the city because of the strong need for alimentation. While the location of the slaughterhouse and stables moved out of the city centre to more external areas, the presence of animals in the city remained on different levels. Looking at animals as resources, not only for alimentation, but also as working animals, picked up a former discussion. In the end, the topic on the split view on animals as pets and livestock was also raised again.

Closing our City Walk, we went to the restaurant Nüsslein for lunch together. 

Discussing animals as economic resources at the Krämerbrücke (Image: Mika Hagedorn)

Cite this blog post
Constanze Schaller (2024, April 22). Animals in/and the City (City Walk 12). Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from

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