[URBANTH-L]The postsecular city

Justin Beaumont j.r.beaumont at rug.nl
Fri May 2 14:25:35 EDT 2008

Following the second call for papers I delivered last week, I would like to
add some remarks and hope to stimulate further discussion in this emergent
area of enquiry.


The general question posed by my research agenda is: how can we make sense
theoretically, conceptually and empirically of the postsecular city?


Specific themes for attention include:


--Competing approaches, narratives and definitions of "postsecular";


--Eliciting the specific contribution of a postsecular narrative for
explaining but also for reinterpreting diverse urban processes in a wider
interactive frame of reference;


--New and innovative relations between urban theory, on the one hand, and
theories of religion, faith and belief in a postsecular context on the


--Relations between religion, politics and postsecular urban society at the
political economy and humanist nexus in the current era of


--Theoretical relations between neoliberalization, deprivatization of
religion, re-enchantment of the real, the Weberian secularization thesis and
the repositioning of faith-based organizations (FBOs) in the social and
political processes of cities;


--Competing approaches to urban governance and politics to debate changing
roles of religions and diverse FBOs in the socio-political frameworks of


--Shifting interface between institutions of diverse religions and state at
a variety of scales, with implications for social and political action in


--Contribution of a postsecular narrative for dealing with perennial urban
policy concerns in Europe, North America and beyond (community building;
social inclusion; social cohesion; multiculturalism/ diversity policies);


--An international comparative dimension and typology of "postsecularisms"
to capture differences between Europe, North America and the Global South;


--Empirical evidence to support operationalized identifiers of
postsecularism, such complex faith-based and other motivations for
voluntarism within care networks and for tackling urban homelessness (for
example), as well as data garnered through the EU-7FP FACIT project
(2008-2010) on FBOs and exclusion in European cities.


The research aims to explore and theorize the changing dynamics between
religion, politics and postsecular cities in the conviction that cities are
the pre-eminent loci where these processes converge and congeal with
intensity. While state restructuring, rescaling and the urbanization of
political action are well-documented processes, far less is known about
similar changes in the governance of religious institutions and their
consequences for the urbanizing relations between religion, politics and the
public sphere in the wider context of Habermas (postsecular society),
Cassonova (public religion) and Taylor (multiple modernities). Making the
link between theoretical enquires and operationalized empirical
identification remains a key objective.


Clearly this ambitious agenda is not without blind spots at this early stage
and I welcome your critical and insightful reactions to spearhead debate
among urbanists of all kinds.



Justin Beaumont

Room 3.04, Landleven 1

Faculty of Spatial Sciences

University of Groningen

The Netherlands

Tel: 00 31 50 363 6910/ 3895

Skype: justin9712

Web: www.rug.nl/staff/j.r.beaumont/index


International Conference: Religion, Politics and the Postsecular City,
Groningen, 12-15 November 2008


EU-7FP FACIT project: Faith-based organizations and exclusion in European


Book Reviews Editor: Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie





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