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The Lack of the Urban Factor in the Historiography of Religious Change

Lecture 1/4 in the series "Roman Religion Through an Urban Lens" by UrbNet visiting professor Jörg Rüpke (Max-Weber-Kolleg, Universität Erfurt)

Info about event


Tuesday 31 October 2023,  at 12:00 - 13:00


Centre for Urban Network Evolutions, Aarhus University, Moesgård Allé 20, 8270 Højbjerg, Denmark (Building 4230-232)


Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet)

The Lack of the Urban Factor in the Historiography of Religious Change, lecture 1/4 in the series Roman Religion Through an Urban Lens. 

Jörg Rüpke 
(Max-Weber-Kolleg, Universität Erfurt). 

The interest in urban religion, that is, the co-development of religion and city, or more precisely, religions and urbanities (that constitute places as cities) is not just a product of the “spatial turn”, which was initiated above all by the critique of the capitalist employment of urban space but was quickly followed by conceptual and methodological developments in many disciplines. It is, as I will argue in this lecture, also a reaction to a neglect of cities as specific places of religious developments and driving forces in religious change. This is, as one might arguably claim, by itself a result of a specifically urban development in religious thought, which located original religious experience outside the density and noise of urban space. From the Babel narrative in the Tenakh to the profiling of Christians gospels along the line of pro or contra urban adherences, Jewish and Christian traditions are substantially committed here. Buddha’s asceticism, too, is placed outside of urban density and comfort. Such imaginations have imprinted the very sources of the historiography of religion and hence the academic accounts.