The Sacred and the Urban: Confluences and Conflicts of Aspirations


Workshop Jointly Organised by the Urban Aspirations Research Group and the FASS Religion Research Cluster, National University of Singapore


Workshop Abstract


The city has long been symbolically and materially associated with many religions, but the relationship between the sacred and the urban is still understudied in the social sciences. This workshop explores different ways to understand the relationship through the lens of “aspirations”—hopes of achievement grounded in cultural imaginations and ideas. What aspirations do religious practitioners have with regards to their cities and urban ways of life? How are these urban aspirations expressed in ideational and symbolic productions and ritual and material practice? Do these aspirations complement and clash with the urban aspirations of practitioners of other groups and institutions, religious, non-religious and secular? How do urban movements and transformations shape the aspirations of religious practitioners and vice versa? How do these aspirations travel beyond the groups originating and articulating them, and with what consequences? The workshop gathers a group of anthropologists and sociologists who have been conducting ethnographic studies of various religious communities—Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and folk religion—in Asian cities to discuss these questions.

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