Plenary session II – Moral Cities: Religious Belonging and Cohabitation in Urban Spaces


Organised by:
Hansjörg Dilger, Freie Universität Berlin


Birgit Meyer, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Dominik Mattes, Freie Universität Berlin
Omar Kasmani, Freie Universität Berlin
Werner Schiffauer, Europa-Universität Viadrina


Donnerstag, 5.10., 11.00-13.00Uhr, Rost- und Silberlaube Hörsaal 1a


In recent years, religious ideas, practices and materialities have substantially transformed urban life worlds and reconfigured cities’ moral, political, architectural, and affective-sensorial landscapes. These dynamics – and the way they have become subject to contestation and engagement from a wide range of religious and secular actors – can be exemplified with regard to the ongoing inscription of Pentecostal and Muslim spaces in the highly diversified urban settings of Africa and Europe. In these settings, the sonic and architectural dominance of mega-churches – and the (partly emerging) presence of Muslim ways of living and building in public space – go hand in hand with the articulation of claims about the right to the city, as well as with the borrowing and imitation of forms of religious expression, worship, and the appropriation of urban space. Furthermore, the attraction of religious practices and teaching – and the services religious actors provide to parts of the urban populations – result in the recruitment of new members and/or the expansion of religiously informed practices into domains that were previously controlled by the state and mainly secular and other religious organizations. This plenary discusses how the presence of a multitude of religious actors and modes of expression in urban spaces shapes new routes for belonging and identification and how, at the same time, the transformation of cityscapes through religious practices and materialities poses moral, affective, and political challenges for the cohabitation of urban actors in the secular order. The presenters will also ask how the ongoing shifts in the moral, political and material setup of urban contexts are experienced and embodied by citydwellers who face both the opportunities and promises of their respective religious communities as well as processes of demographic, religious and socio-economic diversification in an interconnected world.