Stephan Lanz, D.Phil., is an urbanist and since 2001 has been an assistant professor in urban studies at the Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. He is Editor of diverse urban studies-anthologies, Author of Berlin Mixed-Up: Occidental-Multicultural-Cosmopolitan? The Political Construction of an Immigration City (Bielefeld 2007) and of Metropoles (Hamburg 2001, with Jochen Becker). Lanz is a founding member of the metroZones Center for Urban Affairs, editor of the metroZones series of books (with Jochen Becker, b_books Berlin) and academic director of the research project Global Prayers – Redemption and Liberation in the City.
Posts by Stephan Lanz
Urban studies has traditionally equated modern urbanity with secularity. Following Jennifer Robinson, this was informed by “theoretical maneuvers” that tied the concept of modernity exclusively to western metropolises, leaving the cities of the Global South to a “developmentalism” that cast them as deficient. Moreover, the prevailing urban studies approaches are, as Aihwa Ong argues “overdetermined in their privileging of capitalism as the only mechanism” of urban development.
The Global Prayers project seeks to counter these problematic traditions of urban theory by developing a transdisciplinary conceptual framework for investigating the production of urban religion and religious urbanity. It does so by interpreting these productions as two sides of a continuous process in which the urban and the religious interact: the project follows the thesis that religion is an integral component of the material, social and symbolic production of the urban at all levels.
Over the last decades, new megacities and postcolonial metropolises have become a laboratories and locations for new religious movements that distance themselves from traditional religious communities. This shift has largely been ignored in urban studies; in thrall to outdated theories of modernization, it has commonly equated urban modernity with secularism. Against this background, the research project Global Prayers: Redemption and Liberation in the City investigated new manifestations of the religious in urban space and the influence of urban cultures on the religious. In making use of collaborations between art and science-based researchers, Global Prayers took a new approach to exploring the urban images and sounds, spaces and practices that the religious adopts in the age of globalization. It created trans-regional networks and advances interdisciplinary approaches.