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Kim Knott | EASR sponsored lecture

Friday, August 28, 11:30 a.m. | SG
Inside out? The (in)visibility of religious communities in contemporary societies

Kim Knott, Lancaster University

Situated within the broader question of why religion is now so publicly visible within secular societies in recent decades is a more specific one about the motivations and tactics of religious communities in becoming more or less open to wider scrutiny. What are the drivers that lead religious communities and groups to assert their presence in the built environment and in open public spaces? Why do they invite strangers in, publicise themselves, or engage actively with others in civil society? Are such tactics merely the consequence of effective state strategies of citizenship and diversity management or is there more to it for the religious communities and groups involved? And why do some pursue such tactics whilst others prefer to avoid the public gaze, and to operate beneath the radar? Some of the answers to these questions are highly contextual – historically, geographically and politically – and they are all the more interesting for being so. As Manuel Vásquez and I noted in our 2014 paper, ‘Three dimensions of religious place making in diaspora’, different spatial regimes ‘give rise to and regulate distinctions between the religious and the secular, the public and the private, the visible and the invisible, and the native and the stranger’. But religious communities and groups also have agency within the process, with their own theological, social and cultural logic and reasons for adopting particular tactics, however constrained. It is these on which I will focus, drawing on examples from recent research projects in global cities.