Iconic Religion. How Imaginaries of Religious Encounter Structure Urban Space (IcoRel)

Project Participants

Within on-going processes of religious pluralisation across Europe, materialised religion, in the form of icons in public space, is becoming increasingly impor- tant. Whenever religious icons, such as sacred buildings and sites, clothing, and public events, are associated with religious traditions with which stakeholders are unfamiliar, they comprise or generate imaginaries about how different religions should co-exist. The main fo- cus of the project is about how imaginaries of religious encounters – visually expressed in pictures, sculptures, symbols, graffiti, performances etc. – structure urban space and vice versa.

The interdisciplinary research group focuses on re- ligious icons and icons of religious encounter in the metropolises of Amsterdam, Berlin and London. In order to consider the complex nature of icons and to analyse how the religious dimension may become domi- nant over other dimensions of meaning, Iconic Religion combines spatial, material-aesthetic, visual analysis, and communicative-semiotic approaches with dis- course analysis and reception studies.

The project expects to achieve research results on the mechanisms of how religious images in the urban space construct either stereotypes or concepts of successful cultural encounter.

In order to maximise knowledge exchange and trans- fer, a website for a broader audience will be created and a photographic exhibition will be shown in Bochum, Berlin, Amsterdam, and London. This will include about 100 photos and texts from interviews illustrat- ing religious encounters and will be complemented by a catalogue with additional information on religious di- versity in Europe.