Category: The Mediterranean

Articles on on cases from the Mediterranean basin and beyond.

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.

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.

Going West: Migrating Personae and Construction of the Self in Rabbinic Culture

A discussion of an example chosen from the series of readings concerned with the reception of Babylonian immigrants in the domain of the Palestinian rabbis. The example is taken from the chapter in which I discuss the Palestinian rabbis’ use of the figure of the Babylonian Other in shaping their collective Self. Those examples deal with the mockery of the Babylonian newcomers. This story is a final anecdote in the tragicomic trilogy of encounters between Babylonian immigrants and the Galilee’s inhabitants.

Urban Monasticism Then and Now

Harry O. Maier discusses Mateusz Fafinski and Jakob Riemenscheider’s book, Monasticism and the City in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. The book provides readers with a comprehensive exploration of ancient monastic and urban sites and their inhabitants, akin to a Lonely Planet travel guide. The authors examine monasticism from five aspects: as a genre, within and as cities, with respect to monks and nuns in urban settings, in terms of monastic learning, and as a phenomenon in Afroeurasia.

The Community as a ‘Sacred Body’ – An Interpretation of the Garden of Epicurus

Our former fellow Enrico Piergiacomi analyses a small fragment of Epicurus’ correspondence. Its an intriguing moment where religion and urbanity intersect. The philosopher’s reasoning was based on a theology that allowed to imagine the Epicurean school as a divine settlement, or ‘sacred body’, as well as on a conception of the civic and economic relationship that tries to recreate in the human city the same blessedness experienced by the. Economy and spirituality seem to coalesce a single, peaceful whole.

Open-Air Preaching and a Muslim Festival: Religious Rituals, Violence, and Urban Space in mid-19th Century Belfast and early-20th Century Jerusalem

Conflicts between different religious groups were a frequent occurrence in cities of the British Empire, particularly from the Victorian era to the interwar period. The imperial agents had a paternalist and orientalist perspective on these episodes of communal violence and assessed them as uncivilized manifestations of religious fanaticism…

Citification and Its Contents – What I owe to Robert A. Orsi

The title of this post is an outspokenly playful plagiarism of the English translation of Freud’s Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (1930), i.e., “Civilization and Its Discontents”. Likewise, the story of my developing spatial-critical approach to the historical study of urban religion can be said to have started with a plagiarism. What is a plagiarism, though? And is it so bad?

Getrennte Wege – geteilte Praktiken: Überlegungen zum kaiserzeitlichen Religionswandel in den Städten des römischen Reiches

Religion wurde im Laufe der Kaiserzeit in den ans Mittelmeer grenzenden Regionen Afrikas, Asiens und Europas immer wichtiger. Verantwortlich dafür werden immer wieder bestimmte (aber immer wieder anders gruppierte) Symbol- und Glaubenssysteme gemacht…

Describing ‘religion’ in European History Needs a New Concept

Religion has played an important role in European history in a number of ways. On the one hand, as a phenomenon it shaped individual regions as religious and cultural areas and often influenced the designation of larger territories (e. g. ‘Catholic Europe’) as well as individual regions or places determined by religious difference….

Narrare la Fine delle Religioni / Narrating the End of Religions

When did Christianity end? Was it with the Reformation, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and the end of the unity of the Church? Was it when rates of church membership fell below fifty percent in some important European cities? Or is Christianity still lingering on – or on a global rise?

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