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.
Part two of recordings of the introductory comments by participants of the 2023 “Religious Ambivalences” conference, organised by Elisa Iori and Jörg Rüpke in November 2023 in Erfurt.
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.
On h-soz-kult, you can now read the panel report by our fellow Heinrich Lang on the “Religion and Urbanity” panel at the 2023 Deutscher Historikertag in Leipzig. the panel “City Branding: Urbanity and the Construction of City Images in Europe and South Asia” was convened by Martin Christ, Sara Keller and Susanne Rau.
Jörg Rüpke has just published an article on Roman holidays with our colleagues at the SFB “Strukturwandel des Eigentums/ Structural Changes of Property” on “Holidays as divine property: Moving symbols of ownership from the countryside into the city”.
How did people try to avoid being robbed and how did they react when it happened? Wiśniewski, drawing from a complex and varied set of sources (including letters, petitions, hagiography and inscriptions) focused on the interface of religion and society, showing how people used various strategies like divination or seeking help from religious figures. Theft in his lecture appeared to us as a complex societal phenomenon, shaking the sometimes fragile trust in local communities.
The ELLA series of lectures will bring to Erfurt the foremost experts in the field from Germany and abroad to discuss their research and to present new approaches on various aspects of this dynamic and fascinating time. In line with the focus of the “Urbanity and Religion” centre in Erfurt, a keen eye will be kept o the intersection of religion and urbanity.
In April 2023, Meera Dass visited a series of places linked to the Ashokan period in Madhya Pradesh, together with Susanne Rau. The initial stop was at the District Museum at Vidisha, where amongst other exhibits, Dr. Dass discussed a Yaksa and Yaski statue from the 2nd century BCE.
The report by Constanze Schaller on the workshop “Urbanity and the Formation of Religious Groups”, organised by Martin Christ in June 2023 has now been published on H-Soz-Kult.
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.
Votive objects, be it votive offerings, sacred dedications or ex voto, are gifts to the gods made by humans, set up in a sacred place for religious purpose. They are a feature of ancient and modern societies alike and are attested in diverse contexts and settings, sharing though a common scope: by setting up votive objects, the individuals seek to enter in communication with the gods.
Aiming at sharpening a heuristic grid for the study of the mutual formation of religion and urbanity, the focus of the conference lies with concepts of religion that address material, socio-spatial, temporal, and power-related issues with a view on religious complexity in general and religious ambivalences in particular. The ultimate aim is to better grasp the entanglement between religion and urbanity and the ways urban and religious practices and ideas can change through the interferences of these internal tensions.
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.
The exhibition “Pompeii and Herculaneum – Living and dying under the volcano” at the smac State Museum of Archaeology Chemnitz, running from 11 November 2022to 12 March 2023, shows the everyday life of rich local inhabitants in the antique Roman cities Pompeii and Herculaneum. The exhibition shows what their lives were like before the tragic catastrophe, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. At Pompeii and Herculaneum, urban life was preserved under the ashes. As a result, we can still see how the inhabitants lived and which urban structures shaped their daily life.
During the last winter term, our fellow Anne Murphy (UBC Vancouver) took over the hosting of our UrbRel podcasts, this time speaking to Kristine Iara and Enrico Piergicacomi. Enjoy finding out what they will take to that lonely island!