Global Prayers

July 29, 2014

Theoretical and Methodological Maneuvers of Global Prayers

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.

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July 24, 2014

Curatorial Aspects and Institutional Settings of Global Prayers

I would like to draw attention to three considerations that framed the Global Prayers project, all of which can be understood as knowledge processes. First, how does a research project relate to and interfere with its institutional bodies? Second, to what extend does it enable and stimulate a transgression of knowledge production? Third, how does it correlate to societal settings?

Institutional Settings as Modes of Knowledge Production: What is a Project Good For?

The Global Prayers project was supervised by a set of institutions: the project’s initiator, the metroZones Center for Urban Affairs, which engages critically with urban development; the arts and culture institution Haus der Kulturen der Welt; and two scientific bodies, the Europa Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder and the Forum Transregionale Studien, which have supported the research project over the course of four years.

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July 22, 2014

Speaking in Tongues: Multichannel Video Installation

Aernaut Mik: Impressions from the multi-channel installation Speaking in Tongues, which was shown at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt from November 2013 to January 2014.

From November 2013 to January 2014, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) showcased video artist Aernout Mik’s multi-part video installation “Speaking in Tongues” under the auspices of the Global Prayers Congress. An essential component of Mik’s work involves comparing the prosperity gospel and the practices of religious communities who espouse it with the beliefs and practices of the secular business world, exploring the extent to which the business world relies on religion for establishing its own rites and practices, and vice versa. Mik’s approach combines aesthetic, fictional, and documentary elements, resulting in the creation of an autonomous artistic performance that both brings to life and reflects on the individual phases of the exploratory work.

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July 17, 2014

On Research Methodologies of Global Prayers

When asked how he processed his fieldwork experiences and data, Claude Lévi-Strauss replied that he always took a lot of notes and collected file cards, “a bit of everything, fleeting ideas, summaries of readings, references, quotes.” If he wanted to understand something, he took a stack of cards from the box and laid them out like a game of Solitaire. The random combinations helped him reconstruct his memory and always gave him a new angle on the matter. At first glance, it might appear astonishing to produce knowledge by means of random combinations. But, taking a closer look into the processes of knowledge production, it is not that astounding at all. Tools to collect data, and the ways materials are categorized to produce meaning, are often based on experiments rather than on purely systematic practices.

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July 15, 2014

Redemption and Liberation in the City: An Introduction

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.

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