Author: urbrel

Framing Games in Sacred Spaces: a Case Study from North-West India

In one of the Hindu myths, Shiva plays dice with his consort Parvati and loses miserably. The oldest of the Pandavas brothers in the Mahābhārata even loses wife, family and kingdom all at once because of a rigged dice game. The theme of the cosmos as a playground in which…

Religious Women, Sex, and the City. The Depiction of Religious Women in Popular Media

In 2019 The Guardian published an article with the title „Archive shows medieval nun faked her own death to escape convent“. Initially, I was surprised to find a newspaper article about medieval nuns. My surprise waned when I read that the nun escaped the convent to have sex or „to…

„The Travels Beyond the Three Seas“

Alam Muzaffar; Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Indo-Persian Travels in the Age of Discoveries, 1400-1800, [Cambridge University Press] 2007, p. 84. European travelers in India before the circumnavigation of the Cape of Good Hope by Vasco da Gama in 1498 are a rare sight, but they do exist. While most pilgrims just claimed…

Conversion and Urbanity in Early Modern Germany (Part 1)

In September 1652, Petrus Overier came to Leipzig. His life had been an itinerant one and he had been to many places in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, as Germany was called at that time. He had been in Limburg, Bamberg, Fulda and many other places. In…

Walking through the streets of Calicut (II)

Calicut, 14th of March 2020 In times of Corona, is it still possible to walk through the streets of a big city that is always teeming with people? Especially in cities where there are no sidewalks, but where passers-by, vendors and automobiles (from autorickshaws to trucks) have to share the…

Walking through the streets of Calicut (I)

As the readers of this blog already know, I currently come to Calicut frequently. The official name of the city is “Kozhikode” (in Malayalam: കോഴിക്കോട്), but the word is difficult for Europeans to pronounce, so we better stay with Calicut. Arab traders are said to have given it this name…

Placing the Dead: The Changing Meanings of Burials and Urban Cemeteries

After decades of disputes, legal challenges and negotiations, the body of Francisco Franco, Spain’s infamous dictator, was moved from a grande Catholic mausoleum to a municipal cemetery this week. In 1975, Franco’s body was placed in the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos) memorial near Madrid. He ruled…

A box of chocolates or the challenges of working in an archive

Archival work comes close to exploring alien worlds. It might be best described by this modified quote of the movie Forrest Gump: „Archival work is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.“ During the last two months, I’ve visited archives in order to find sources…

Religion and Urbanity at the EASR annual conference 2019 (part two of two)

After our first report on our project’s panels at the 17th annual conference of the European Association for the Study of Religions in the Estonian University town of Tartu, this blod post discusses the second series of panels organised by members of our research centre “Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations”.…

Erfurt-ness

A few thoughts on the spirit of Erfurt city in the footsteps of Meister Eckhart and Martin Luther Biology has stressed the relationship between thought and the brain for a long time – an idea that cognitive neurosciences and neuro-psychological studies object to today.[1] The attempt to associate a physical…

Religious Places in Motion

On 18 July 2019, the second edition of our city walk on “Religion and Urbanity” in Erfurt took place. (For a short repot on our first walk, see here). The warm and sunny morning prompted us to stay in the shade of Erfurt’s churches and wander in the shadows of…

How can one describe a bazaar? A first attempt: Walking over the “Big Bazaar” in Calicut

In April 2019, when I accepted an invitation to give a lecture at Kannur, our partner university, I combined my stay with initial on-site research on our research project “Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations”. I already had a first idea of what I wanted to investigate in selected West Indian…

Religion and Urbanity in Munich’s Town Museum

During a recent visit to Munich, I had the opportunity to visit the town museum. Tucked behind other buildings, the museum displays a range of historical artifcats, covering the town’s history from its foundation to modernity. The impressive collection aims to answer what is ‘typical for Munich’ (‘Typisch München!’), but…

The Urban Reformation: An Overview

Martin Luther did not always appreciate the urban environment. Supposedly, he said once during a conversation with students and colleagues that “poverty is great in the city, but laziness much greater”. Although this quote comes from the table talk, a collection of what Luther said in a jovial atmosphere, and…

Religion and Urbanity: A Brief Introduction

Religion has led to dramatic developments in the history of cities, such as foundations, waves of immigration, transformations, (re-) ghettoization and genocide. But what is the specific urban quality of religious ideas, practices and institutions? What was their role in the production of urban space? More than half of the…