exc-5a23fbb4343a9bd737479d96 “Imagine, exactly here would be a synagogue, a mosque, a Hindu temple, or a Buddhist stupa!” With this thought experiment passengers were confronted in the city of Essen in September…
This unique exhibition project (co-authored with Alexander-Kenneth Nagel, Ruhr University of Bochum) combines science, religion, and fine arts took place on September 16-17, 2011 in Essen, Germany, and was funded by the fellowship program of the Global Young Faculty (Stiftung Mercator, Essen).
Abstract: Making visible religious diversity and plurality in the immigration country Germany and highlighting the connective resources and potentials of religion, these have been the principle object of the exhibition and art project ‘Sondernutzung – Religious Diversity in the Public Sphere.’ The project addressed the question of how the perception of religious diversity does change when different religious groups were relegated for a moment from the ‘margins’ of our cities’ backyards and neighborhood communities, business parks and industrial area to the urban centers in the Metropolis Ruhr. An ‘interfaith pavilion’ was at the heart of a temporary exhibition that took place in the inner city of Essen, Germany, on September 16-17, 2010. A menacing-looking barbed wire fence surrounded a high tower constructed of bright and yellow concrete-timber panels with six square meters of area. The interior of the pavilion invited visitors to contemplate, rest, and tranquilize. On the inner surfaces, the visitors could post and share their impressions and experiences of religious diversity as well as their opinions about religion, posterity, etc. The space between the fence and the pavilion created an exhibition platform for the presentation of multimedia based student research projects. The exhibition served both to raise the awareness of ‘hidden’ aspects of religious diversity in familiar surroundings and to stimulate discussions about religious traditions of immigrants and minorities and their public validity claims. Finally, a ten-minute documentary recorded the reactions to exhibition and art project.
My current postdoc research (during Visiting Fellowshop at the Jagiellonian University and Goethe Institut in Kraków in March and April 2011) is dedicated to the critical reconsideration of the process of secularization in Europe, with special regard to the religious changes and developments in Poland.
Abstract: Secularization in Europe has become on the one hand an undeniable socio-cultural, historical and societal matter of fact. On the other hand, it is dangerous to talk of a universal development, although studies can show empirical evidence and validity for some regions and countries in Europe. In various theories of secularization it is assumed that irreligious social developments can be attributed to processes of modernization, transformation and functional differentiation as well as to rationalization and individualization of cultural life worlds (Davie, 2000). This (often ideologically disguised) hypothesis is associated with the critical wing of the European Enlightenment. As José Casanova (2003: 60) emphasized, however, the hypothesis of a secularized Europe needs to be confronted with various special cases of ‘over secularization’ (e.g. East Germany, Czech Republic and Scandinavian countries) and ‘sub-secularization’ (such as Ireland and Poland). Nevertheless, the ‘causa Polonia semper fidelis’ is exposed as an exception amongst the so-called Eastern European transition countries. In Casanova’s opinion, the secularization in Europe could be regarded as a ‘self-fulfilling prophec’ (2003: 61) that serves both as cause and consequence of the process of (religious) profanation. This means that religion becomes redundant not in itself or by losing its explicatory power, but by the conversion to the new belief of a decline of religion in human daily life and the whole of society. Since the normative theory of secularization cannot ultimately provide a general or a viable explanation for the special historical and religious developments in Poland other approaches may be imperative. Therefore, this paper aims at focusing on the question of how and what cultural, historical, socio-cultural and religious changes have resulted in today’s high percentage of committed Roman Catholic believers. It will also be necessary to undertake a re-reading (discussed in Casanova, 2003: 58) of the argument adduced by Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek (former secretary-general of the Polish bishops’ conference and rector of the Pontifical Academy in Krakow) – namely that the European integration of the ‘Catholic Poland’ is an essential ‘great apostolic assignment for the Church’ (Stadtmüller, 2000: 36).(more…)