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In recent years, we have witnessed the intensification of economic inequalities in cities. Gentrification has resulted in displacement and homelessness with municipal divestment exacerbating public health and environmental concerns. At the same time, individuals around the globe are taking to the street and occupying cities to fight for racial and economic justice (i.e. Black Lives Movement, protest encampments, Umbrella Revolution, Indian farmers protest). The Religion and Cities Unit seeks papers and panels that examine the role of religion in such shifts and political organizing in cities. How is religion complicit in gentrification/divestment? How are religious actors stepping up for disappearing welfare States? And how are faith leaders participating in contemporary justice movements?

Possible Co-Sponsor Sessions:
For a possible joint session with the Native Traditions in the Americas Unit, we invite papers focusing on Indigenous communities in urban spaces, their diversity, resiliency, and creativity. Of particular interest are papers exploring the unique challenges Indigenous peoples face protecting the sacred (burial grounds, ceremonial spaces, water, etc.) within urban contexts.

For a possible joint session with Space, Place and Religion Unit
Space and Prayer in Motion: Density, diversity, and movement characterize urban space. We seek papers about the city as a setting for spirituality, and especially about the way those who pray make use of urban environments. How do city spaces set prayer in motion or bring prayer into public view? We also welcome papers addressing how race, gender, class, accessibility, and religious difference shape the dynamics of urban mobility in such situations. Possible topics might include prayer walking, prayer in schools, public religious activities, the role technologies of movement play in these activities, and public spaces such as roads and plazas used for prayer.

We invite proposals in a variety of formats, including paper presentations, roundtable discussions, workshops, full panel proposals, panels that include artists, activists, and other community partners, panels connected to ongoing projects including podcasts, blogs, maps, and other digital humanities projects, and also panels on new books or articles - such as Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada’s Lifeblood of the Parish: Men and Catholic Devotion in Williamsburg or Alisa Perkins Brooklyn and Muslim American City: Gender and Religion in Metro Detroit.

Mission Statement:

This unit engages in critical analysis of ecological relationships between religion and cities.
We are particularly interested in how white settler colonialism, racial capitalism, and heteropatriarchy shape cooperative and conflicting relationships between cities across the globe and their religious communities in the struggle for social justice.

Method of Submission:




Harold Morales, harold.morales@morgan.edu

Rupa Pillai, rupillai@sas.upenn.edu


Steering Committee:

Katie Day, kday@uls.edu

James Edmonds, jmedmond@asu.edu

Isaiah Ellis, iellis@unc.edu

Fatimah Fanusie, fanusie@icjs.org

Sher Afgan Tareen, sherafgan.tareen@morgan.edu


Session Allotment: Tier 1 – Two 90-minute sessions

Next Review: 2022