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Religious Architecture

Religious Architecture: Anthropological Perspectives

Edited by Oskar Verkaaik
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 213
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  • Book Info
    Religious Architecture
    Book Description:

    Borrowing from a range of theories on spacemaking and material religion, and with contributions from anthropologists working in the United Kingdom, Mali, Brazil, Spain, and Italy, this fascinating and comprehensive study develops an anthropological perspective on modern religious architecture including mosques, churches, and synagogues.Religious Architectureexamines how religious buildings take their place in opposition to their secular surroundings and, in so doing, function not only as community centers in urban daily life, but also as evocations of the sublime that help believers to move beyond the boundaries of modern subjectivity.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1834-0
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Religious Architecture Anthropological Perspectives
    (pp. 7-24)
    Oskar Verkaaik

    Given that many people of religion tend to downplay the importance of religious buildings as merely representing the outside or the superficial part of their religion, it is remarkable how much time, energy and – above all – money are put into the construction of new religious buildings all over the world. Proselytising Christian groups in the US, Europe or Africa have built an astonishing number of new churches, some of which are quite costly and spectacular, and they will continue to do so (LeCavalier 2009). Since the end of Communism in the former Soviet Union, many new Russian orthodox churches have...

  4. Stability, Continuity, Place An English Benedictine Monastery as a Case Study in Counterfactual Architecture
    (pp. 25-46)
    Richard D.G. Irvine

    This is about a home: Downside Abbey in Somerset, England, which is home to a community of Catholic monks who derive their pattern of life ultimately from the sixth-centuryRuleof Saint Benedict. What I want to explore here is theactiverole of buildings in Benedictine life, and the crucial part that architecture plays in building up an English Benedictine identity. The monastery is a practical architecture for living – praying, eating, working, studying, sleeping – as well as a visible site of witness to the world. Drawing on ethnographic and historical research, I will first attempt to describe the role...

  5. The Biggest Mosque in Europe! A Symmetrical Anthropology of Islamic Architecture in Rotterdam
    (pp. 47-62)
    Pooyan Tamimi Arab

    The new Essalam Mosque of Rotterdam, often said to be “the biggest mosque of Europe”, opened in December 2010 after more than a decade of conflict and controversy. The building was realised thanks to the financial backing of the Al Maktoum Foundation based in the United Arab Emirates. Together with the mayor, the sponsor representatives and local media, former “guest workers” – now Dutch citizens – marched from the original mosque to the new building in the same neighbourhood. The difference was striking: the former structure was small, poorly lit, with a very limited space for ablution and prayer, and only a...

  6. Golden Storm The Ecstasy of the Igreja de São Francisco, in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil
    (pp. 63-82)
    Mattijs van de Port

    Although I am slightly embarrassed to admit it, there is no denying the fact that when I entered the Igreja de São Francisco in Salvador, Bahia – one of the most famous baroque churches in Brazil – I had an immediate bodily reaction: my nipples hardened. No goose bumps, no gasping for air, no shivers down my spine (bodily responses which somehow feel more admissible to open an academic discussion) but hard nipples. And mind you, it wasn’t even the first time I entered this church.

    ‘The erection of nipples’, writes the Wikipedia entry on the subject (where I hastily sought to...

  7. Works of Penance New Churches in Post-Soviet Russia
    (pp. 83-98)
    Tobias Köllner

    Within a few decades, Russia – in Soviet times a self-declared atheist country – experienced an astonishing religious revival, often described as a ‘religious rebirth’ (religioznoe vozrozhdenie). Religion, formerly ‘domesticated’ (Dragadze 1993) and limited to the private sphere, reappeared in the public. Under General Secretary Gorbachev,glasnostandperestroikawere initiated and set off two processes: economic reforms were carried out and religious freedom was granted. For the latter, the celebration of the millennium of the introduction of Christianity into Russia (Kievan Rus at that time)¹ is considered to be a turning point, as it marked the end of attempts to ban...

  8. Divining Siddhivinayak The Temple and the City
    (pp. 99-116)
    Markha Valenta

    One of the most profound effects of India’s shift since the 1980s from a developmentalist state to a neoliberalising one has been to fundamentally transform the role and the form of its cities. If, following in the footsteps of Gandhi, India’s villages were long thought to hold the key to the country’s identity, values and future, today India’s cities are not only growing phenomenally – fed by migrants and commuters from rural hinterlands across India – but have become sites for cutting-edge global innovation in urban capital extraction, deregulated planning, informal living, insurgent and gated citizenship and fierce contests between an emergent...

  9. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  10. The Djenné Mosque World Heritage and Social Renewal in a West African Town
    (pp. 117-148)
    Trevor H.J. Marchand

    Following a historical and architectural overview of the Djenné Mosque, this chapter raises questions of ownership and control of cultural heritage. The Djenné Mosque is reputed to be the largest single mud structure in the world, and each year during the dry winter season the town’s population festively re-plasters its surfaces in an exhilarating one-day ceremony. Traditionally, an auspicious date for the ceremony was agreed upon by a group of wise and trusted elders, and the association of masons lent their blessing. In 2005, however, control over scheduling the event was assumed by a festival planning committee with vested interests...

  11. The New Morabitun Mosque of Granada and the Sensational Practices of Al Andaluz
    (pp. 149-170)
    Oskar Verkaaik

    The conundrum of beauty and religion is a particularly salient one for the community of Western Islamic converts who have settled in Granada, Spain.¹ Known as the Morabitun – the Arab word for the Almoravids who ruled most of Spain in the eleventh and twelfth centuries – this group of converts came to Granada in the 1980s where most of them have lived in the neighbourhood of Albaicin, located opposite the Alhambra with a view of the Sierra Nevada. Aiming to revive the Islamic culture of Al-Andaluz, they chose as their home a place of objective beauty, even despite the fact that...

  12. The Israelite Temple of Florence
    (pp. 171-184)
    Ivan Kalmar

    As the site of regularly performed religious rituals, religious buildings are permanent, institutionalised sites for producing the Holy.¹ But the religious building also produces and reproduces – mainly through its architectural style and its location – the relationship between the religious organisation and the wider community where the building stands. Here, the religious is produced along with its relationship to the secular.² The religious buildings of minority faiths, in particular, create and reflect their version of the Holy along with the struggle to define the status of the minority religion vis-à-vis not only the majority religion but also the secular polity where...

  13. The Mosque in Britain Finding its Place
    (pp. 185-204)
    Shahed Saleem

    Before the census of 2001, there was no way of accurately determining the size of the Muslim population in Britain, as previous censuses did not categorise religious affiliation. The best estimates, in 1991, concluded that the Muslim population at the time stood at one million, with 80% being of South Asian origin. The remainder were drawn mostly from the Arab world, Malaysia, Iran, Turkey, Cyprus, and East and West Africa (Lewis 2004: 14). With natural growth, continuing globalisation and post-colonial migration fuelled by economic hardship and conflict, more migrants arrived in Britain from other parts of the Muslim world. By...

  14. About the Authors
    (pp. 205-208)
  15. Index
    (pp. 209-213)