Description of the Topic:
Singapore-Flats and Busses at Boon Lay -Enlarge-
Even within the last decade, Asia's urban landscapes have transformed so rapidly as to be unrecognizable not only to returning foreign visitors but also to their own inhabitants. The rapid pace of urbanization makes this an ideal time to investigate and record processes of accommodation and adaptation to these changes in both large metropolises and growing regional and midsized cities. We propose, as one fruitful path to understanding such processes, a focus on everyday religiosity -- most particularly on what takes place in the spaces created by new or changing religious organizations. We wish to define religious organizations broadly to include associations that range in scope from neighborhood-based to consciously global. Our definition of "spatial aspects" includes direct place-making projects such as the construction of new religious buildings -- temples, halls and other meeting sites. It also includes less tangible religious endeavors such as the production of new "mental spaces," urged by spiritual leaders in response to growing consumerism and globalization.
We want to consider closely the specificities of selected urban religious teachings and practices. How do distinct and blurred, open and bounded, communities generate and participate in diverse teachings and practices as they deliberately engage, or disengage, with physical landscapes / cityscapes? In our analysis of these religious organizations, we necessarily understand class, ethnicity, gender, politics, and ongoing historical and economic transformations as significant factors shaping and affecting Asian urban lives. Our key interest for this workshop, however, is to locate individual identities and experiences within the particularities of selected religious organizations and the ways they may seek to interpret or actively construct urban places. We seek to accumulate, through ethnographically and historically grounded case studies, the varieties of ways that members of newly emerging religious communities or religious institutions understand, value, interact with, or strive to ignore, extreme urbanization and rapidly changing built environments.