Urban religion and religious change: intellectualization of religion and ritual invention
The central hypothesis of the newly established International Centre for Advanced Studies on “Religion and Urbanity” at the Max-Weber-Kolleg in Erfurt is that many features of past and present religions would be more plausibly viewed as the outcome of specific effects and uses of city-space and their social and cognitive bases rather than as inherent characteristics of a specific ‘religion’. Many religious phenomena, and especially major religious changes, can be better understood by viewing them in spatial terms, that is, as a result of a dialectic of “co-production” (Day) of city-space and urban life, on the one side, and religious representations and practices, on the other. Therefore, change is not conceptualized by presupposing religion and the city as two static entities, but rather implying a “continual process in which the urban and the religious reciprocally interact, mutually interlace, producing, defining, and transforming each other” (Lanz). Designating a process in which religion and the urban are involved, ‘urban religion’ is the formula that defines also the state of a religion which is shaped by the interaction with the urban spatial environment and which can periodically crystallize into major changes whose assessment and naming is a responsibility of the scholar. Focusing on changing urban environments against the backdrop of long-term periodisations such as the Roman empire, the rise of Islam, and the European age of explorations (with the Reformation and the development of colonial empires), this panel aims to reflect upon forms of connectivity (cooperative or/and conflictual) and target religious dynamism through the lenses ofreligious intellectualization and ritual invention. These are two kinds of religious changes that appear recurrently in the cross-culturally entangled, world-wide history of religion and urbanism all the way through. How and how far are religious intellectualization and ritual invention made possible by the engagement of religious communication “with the conditions of specific urban environments at particular moments in the environmental, political, and social histories of cities” (Orsi)? Divided into two subpanels dedicated to intellectualization of religion and ritual invention, respectively, we welcome papers from religious studies, urban studies, urban history, archaeology and related disciplines.