Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Urban Planning, Religious Pluralism & The Postcolonial City

The integration of religion(s) in public space is rather complex and leads to discussions abouth both secularism and interculturalism. There is the basic question, for instance asked by the Mouvement laique québécois, if attributing a religious character to public places is contrary to the fundamental principles of a society which stipulates that public spaces should be available to every individual regardless of religious belief (Germain, n.y.).

Ethno-religious groups' desire to contribute to the urban landscape and to be visually represented is interpreted as a demand for recognition. Denying their visibility means denying their contribution and promoting homogeneity. Places of worship can "provide a glimpse into the ever-changing reality of our larger cities and an opportunity to uncover the rich tapestry of social interaction inherent in co-existence" (Germain, n.y.). In this ever-changing reality, the postcolonial city is "the city of diasporas and migrations in which differences and plurality have upset and rewritten hegemonic, colonialist, mono-cultural dialogues" (via).

Bouchard, G. & Taylor, C. (2008) Building the Future. A Time for Reconciliation. (via)
Gale, R. (n.y.) The Multicultural City and the Politics of Religious Architecture: Urban Planning, Mosques and Meaning-making in Birmingham, UK. Built Environment, 30(1), 18-32
Germain, A. (n.y.) Religion in Public Space in a Multi-Ethnic Environment: reasonable accommodation in zoning. Plan, Special Edition, 89-91
Photo of Wilhelmina Cooper by Rico Puhlmann (1962) via and photograph by Norman Parkinson (1963) via