urban studies

July 29, 2014

Theoretical and Methodological Maneuvers of Global Prayers

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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.


July 24, 2014

Curatorial Aspects and Institutional Settings of Global Prayers

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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.


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 This shift has largely been ignored in urban studies; in thrall to outdated theories of modernization, it has commonly equated urban modernity with secularism.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.