Category: Concepts & Theory

Research foci for the next years

In the winter of 2021/22, the Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies “Religion and Urbanity” (UrbRel) was positively evaluated for a second funding phase and in April 2022 the main committee of the DFG granted a second funding period from 2023 until 2026. During this time, the UrbRel group will continue its work within the chosen temporal and spatial framework of the first millennium BC until today in Europe, the Mediterranean and South Asia. To this end, we have selected three focal areas of investigation and will establish three focus groups: Group formation and segmentation, mercantilisation, and boundary drawing.

2022 Annual Conference on Urbanity

From 16 to 18 November, our annual conference takes place at Ettersburg Castle, close to Weimar. Drawing upon the results of two summer workshops – one on the benefits and pitfalls of typologising cities, the other on morphing urbanities across time and space – the conference has three main parts.

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…

Sacred City Intersections: Superiority-Inferiority Complexes in Sites of Amritsar, India

Be it Mecca, the Vatican City, Varanasi, or Amritsar: even while cities acquire the status of sacrality particular to a specific religious group, they continue to harbour pronounced inter- and intra-religious dynamics within and outside their circumscribed boundaries. Such phenomena require a multiscalar and intersectional lens of analysis…

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?

UrbRel Workshop “Metamorphoses of Urbanities” 22./23.06.22

How do we live together in dense urban spaces? This is the big question – in today’s urbanised world as well as in historical urban networks. Evidently, people have given very different answers to that question on sunny places and in dark shelters. Ways of living urban lives change quickly across time or groups. This is what our workshop seeks to explore.

Map of Paris in Early Middle ages

The Same Spaces Tell Different Religious Stories. Several Considerations on Cospatiality in Paris around 1300

The following considerations have arisen in the context of research into the religious and social contexts of religious writing around 1300. The search for “co-spatiality,” for “equality in space”, has its roots in socio-religious conflicts in the city of Paris, which in the first two decades of the fourteenth century led to the use of state and ecclesiastical power, including force and violence, by the Inquisition…

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