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Religious places in urban space

A218
Panel Chairs: Marian Burchardt, Maria Chiara Giorda | Tuesday, August 25, 1:30-3 p.m. | Venue

Mounting evidence that many cities are vibrant centers of religious innovation forced social scientists to interrogate and partially reject earlier generalized assumptions about the secularizing effects of urbanization and diversification: religious lines of difference are reshaped rather than eclipsed. This raises questions about religions and urban space are mutually reconfigured in the age of globalization, transnational migration and religious diversification. This panel explores anthropological and micro-sociological questions about the place-making practices of religious communities: How is religious diversity experienced in everyday life in relation to other markers of cultural difference in cities? How is this everyday life experience shaped by regulations of religion and cities’ religious identities? How are religious communities located within social, cultural and physical space?

Francisco Díez de Velasco

Minorities vs. majorities: Making visible religious diversity in Madrid (Spain)

The purpose of this contribution is, using the legal framework of the religious minorities in Spain as the main classification criterion, to share views, providing some images and examples from which to reflect on the increased visibilization of the non-Catholic religious groups in Madrid. From its almost total invisibility in Franco's time there has been a process of increase of presence in Spanish urban spaces, and Madrid is an interesting example of the combination of marginalization of minorities (in some cases) but also of extreme visibilization of some other religious groups due to the emblematic space that is Madrid as the capital of Spain.

Avi Astor, Marian Burchardt, Mar Griera

Minority Religious Expressions and the Politics of Urban Space in Catalonia

From July to September 2013, more than 400 Muslims participated in the five daily Islamic prayers that were held in front of the municipality building of a Catalan town as a ‘pressure tactic’. Local Muslims complained against the local policy on places of worship that forced them to relocate their mosque out of downtown to an industrial park. Taking this case as a point of departure and putting it in comparison with other similar ones, the paper explores the role of these public religious performances as sites of negotiation and contestation between religious actors, political authorities and civil society. We will argue that these religious expressions are crystallizations of the changes in religious, social and cultural life in Catalan society. At the same time they become the arena where new public meanings and understandings are being created.

Matilde Cassani

The case of the Italian Sikh rural communities

In Italy, the construction of a place of worship is regulated by a plurality of normative sources, mainly regional, fragmentary, chaotic and inorganic from the legislative and the administrative point of view. Therefore, urban change and the use of space happen much more swiftly than any change in urban planning policies, tools and regulations. In major cities, not having objective social and physical visibility, sacred places are not localizable by the authorities, nor recognized by the citizenship. The countryside hosts an incredible variety of cultures since the economic importance of immigrants and the availability of space seems to guarantee more rights in terms of construction of places of worship. For these reasons, the Italian new religious landscape becomes evident mainly within its countryside. The focus will be on the 20 Gurdwaras (Sikh Temples) which are spread over the Italian agricultural field.

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