The Sacred in the City

edited by Liliana Gómez
edited by Walter Van Herck

London/New York: Continuum, February 2012
288 Pages
£ 65.00
http://www.continuumbooks.com/books/detail.aspx?BookId=159765&SearchType=Basic

The book reflects the way in which the city interacts with the sacred in all its many guises, with religion and the human search for meaning in life. As the process of urbanization of society is accelerating thus giving an increasing importance to cities and the ‘metropolis’, it is relevant to investigate the social or cultural cohesion that these urban agglomerations manifest. Religion is keenly observed as witnessing a growth, crucially impacting cultural and political dynamics, as well as determining the emergence of new sacred symbols and their inscription in urban spaces worldwide. The sacred has become an important category of a new interpretation of social and cultural transformation processes. From a unique broader perspective, the volume focuses on the relationship between the city and the sacred. Taking a multidisciplinary approach, combining the expertise of philosophers, historians, architects, social geographers, sociologists and anthropologists, it draws a nuanced picture of the different layers of religion, of the sacred and its diverse forms within the city, with examples from Europe, South America and the Caribbean, and Africa.

Table of Contents
Framing the Sacred in the City. An Introduction, Liliana Gómez & Walter van Herck Part I: The Sacred and the City: Theoretical Approaches 1.Sacred Horror Vacui. A Philosophical Reflection, Walter Van Herck 2.The Urbanization of Society. Towards a Cultural Analysis of the Sacred in the Modern Metropolis, Liliana Gómez 3.The Lingering Smell of Incense. Exploring Post-secular Public Space, Pieter Dronkers Part II: Religion, Built Environments and Urban Societies 4.Religion in the Built Environment: Aesth/Ethics, Ritual and Memory in Lived Urban Space, Sigurd Bergmann 5.Kinhin in a Mega-City – Implicit meanings of the ‘Walking-in-the-Park’-Movement in São Paulo, Frank Usarski 6. Life Stance and Religious Identity in an Urbanised World. The Meaning of Life as a Modern Predicament, Rik Pinxten & Lisa Dikomitis Part III: Sacred Symbols, Sacred Spaces 7.Sacred Symbols of the City: Babel, Barbara and Their Towers, Anne-Marie Korte 8.Communicating the Elemental Cosmos: The Hereford Mappa Mundi, Sacred Space and the City, Renée Köhler-Ryan 9.Relocating and Negotiating the Sacred: The Reception of a Chapel in a Shopping Mall, Anne Birgitta Pessi & Peter Nynäs Part IV: Politics of the Sacred in Contemporary Urban Spaces 10.Kinshasa and its (Un)Certainties: The Polis and the Sacred, Filip De Boeck 11. The Politics of a Sacred Place: Revisiting an Israeli Development Town, Haim Jacobi 12.The Sacred in the City: Havana. Alejo Carpentier or ‘Fieldwork’ in the Urban, Liliana Gómez 13. Remaking Sacred Spaces after Socialism in Ukraine, Catherine Wanner Index