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“An infectious embrace of the urban landscape”

From “The Immanent Frame” by the Social Science Research Council here & there: Mapping religion in American places posted by John Schmalzbauer From H. Paul Douglass to Nancy Ammerman, sociologists have mapped the spiritual and religious ecology of American places. In the 1990s, the Polis Center’s Project on Religion and Urban Culture at IUPUI painted […]

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From "The Immanent Frame" by the Social Science Research Council
here & there:

Mapping religion in American places

posted by John Schmalzbauer

From H. Paul Douglass to Nancy Ammerman, sociologists have mapped the spiritual and religious ecology of American places.

In the 1990s, the Polis Center’s Project on Religion and Urban Culture at IUPUI painted a systematic portrait of religion in Indianapolis. Led by a team of sociologists and historians, it produced university press books, videos, photography exhibitions, newsletters, and a community-wide festival on “spirit and place” featuring Hoosiers Dan Wakefield and Kurt Vonnegut.

During the same period, sociologist Nancy Eiesland conducted an innovative study of exurban congregations in metropolitan Atlanta, while USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture started mapping the religious landscape of greater Los Angeles.

Two newer projects take a similar approach to the religious life of New York City and Philadelphia. Emerging out of the same research institute that produced New York Glory: Religions in the City, a new website offers a “journey through NYC religions,” complete with maps, videos, research diaries, and interpretive essays. An essay on “Postsecular NYC & Jacob Riis” reflects on the Danish immigrant’s Social Gospel photography, quoting SSRC President Craig Calhoun’s observations on religion and public reason. Its infectious embrace of the urban landscape is reminiscent of Judith Weisenfeld’s path-breaking course, “Gods of the City: Religion in New York.”

An equally engaging project tells the story of religion in America along Philadelphia’s Germantown Avenue, home to over 100 congregations and a wide range of demographic groups. Directed by Katie Day of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, it is profiled at Duke’s Faith & Leadership site.

Back in 2008, Day wrote about the Germantown project for CrossCurrents. In a fascinating slide show, she takes us on a tour of Philadelphia religion. After a narrating a parade of tall steeple churches, immigrant and African-American mosques, evangelical storefronts, and colonial-era meetinghouses, Day admits she “could spend the rest of my life on one street.” Having seen the rich tapestry that emerges from her research, it is easy to understand why.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2010 at 8:07 pm and is filed under here & there. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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2 Responses to ““An infectious embrace of the urban landscape”” Leave a reply ›

  • In the Social Science Research Council blog on religion, "The Immanent Frame," Schmalzbauer really put a lot of info in a small space. We just finished a terrific journey through Flatbush (more about this later) and now head out to finish Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Then, we head out to finish Washington Heights! From the restaurants and synagogues of Middle Eastern Jews to Haitians to Hipsters then to Dominicans. What a great summer tour of America!

    Best and thanks!

  • Great article. Thought provovoking.

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