Category: Personal Reflections

Latrines make urbanity ?!

Sara Keller, postdoc with the Religion and Urbanity group, on the link between waste infrastructures and urban lifestyles. Not just prestigious fountains in large public squares, luxurious bath houses and monumental stepwells are outstanding expressions of urbanity: latrines also can contribute to the production of an urban, cultured and sophisticated way of life.

“Garten und Religion?!” – Sonderbeitrag zum Thema Paradiesgarten

Masterstudierende der Uni Erfurt erarbeiteten gemeinsam mit Sara Keller einen Bereich in der Sonderausstellung zu “Garten und Religion?!”, die derzeit im Erfurter Gartenbaumuseum zu sehen ist. Im Seminar „Der Paradiesgarten als Idealraum“ setzten sich die Studierenden mit religiösen und philosophischen Konzepten auseinander, die von der Antike bis in die Frühe Neuzeit die Gestaltung persischer und indischer Gärten beeinflussten. Die sogenannten Charbagh (oder Chaharbagh) Gärten zeichnen sich durch eine geometrische Anordnung von Strukturen wie Einfriedungen, Wasserkanälen, Pavillons und Wegen aus, weisen aber auch eine üppige Flora auf.

“Thrill” and Intimidation by Means of Light and Darkness in the Pre-Modern Era – The Alter Einlass (Old Entrance) in Augsburg

Our former fellow Vera Henkelmann on the Old Entrance in Augsburg, once famous for its engineering. The power of the council and the city of Augsburg was thus demonstrated here by the ability to restrict sight, especially light, and thus to physically intimidate those entering, even to expose them to the demonic nature of darkness and gloom.

Frischer Wind in alten Gassen: Zweitausend Jahre Stadtplanung

Eine Zeitreise in die Antike, das erste Jahrtausend v. Chr., und eine Reise aus Mitteleuropa in die Gegenden, in denen man zu schreiben verstand. Erst mit Hilfe der Schrift gelang es Expertinnen und Experten das flüchtige Element Wind so dauerhaft in Gedankengebäuden einzufangen, dass wir uns heute noch damit auseinandersetzen können.

City of Words

Review by Supriya Chaudhuri. In February last year I was in Hampi, Karnataka, once the sacral core of the city of Vijayanagara, capital of India’s last great Hindu empire. Sitting in the shadow of the Virupaksha temple, I read Salman Rushdie’s fifteenth novel, Victory City, a magical, intricate history of the foundation and destruction of the city of Vijayanagara, or Bisnaga, as it was called by the Portuguese traveller Domingo Paes.

Archäologie aus der Ferne: Religion und Urbanität im spätantiken Nordsyrien

von Verena Fugger. Wenn es um das Thema „Archäologie in Syrien“ geht, werden den meisten LeserInnen dieses Blog-Beitrags vermutlich noch die durch zahlreiche Medienkanäle verbreiteten Bilder der Sprengung des Beltempels in Palmyra durch Gruppen der Terrormiliz Islamischer Staat am 31. August 2015 lebendig in Erinnerung sein. Abgesehen von der unfassbaren humanitären Katastrophe, die dieser Krieg über die Bevölkerung brachte, gehörten die Zerstörung und Plünderung archäologischer Fundstätten, historischer Altstädte wie jener von Aleppo und musealer Exponate zu den größten Gräueltaten des Terrorregimes. Unwiederbringlich verloren sind zahllose Kulturgüter, die – wenn sie nicht durch direkte Kriegshandlungen oder Vandalismus zerstört worden sind – ihren Weg aus den örtlichen Museen in den illegalen Kunsthandel und von dort mittlerweile auch nach Deutschland gefunden haben.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

Remembering Professor Rangachari Champakalakshmi (1932-2024)

On the occaision of the passing away of prof Champakalashmi we would like to share the condolence note published by her colleagues at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharal Nehru University in New Delhi. She was one of the finest and leading historians of early and medieval India, a passionate and committed teacher, and a friend to many.

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