Worldwide, new religious movements are changing the cultures, economies and everyday life in the metropolis. In Lagos, the largest church building holds five times more people than the world’s biggest soccer stadium. In Beirut, Muslim organizations conduct the rebuilding of war-ravaged neighborhoods and are in charge of housing provision. In the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, evangelicals are active in drug prevention; in Mumbai, Hindu nationalists are officially part of the municipal government. Right across the religious spectrum, these new movemements and organizations have become political actors and global players who frequently substitute state agencies. At the same time, urban cultures, in their turn, are permeated by new modes of religious expression like – for example – religious Hip-Hop and Christian Nollywood films.
Through science and art, the project global prayers • redemption and liberation in the city investigates new manifestations of the religious in urban space and the influence of urban cultures on the religious. In making use of collaborations between art and science-based researchers, global prayers takes a new approach to exploring the images and sounds, spaces and practices that the religious adopts in the age of globalization. It creates trans-regional networks and advances interdisciplinary approaches. Since May 2010, over 20 academics and artists from more than ten countries have been working on case studies in eight of the world’s metropolises: Lagos, Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, Istanbul, Beirut, Jakarta, Kinshasa, and Berlin.
The ongoing research process is presented to the public through a number of forums and intervention pieces: on-location symposia and workshops in the metropolises provide an opportunity to gain a closer understanding of religious communities and their activities. The global prayers saloons provide a forum for discussion on the politics of knowledge. The results of the project’s art-based research will be presented in the exhibition the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers, which will open at the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK) in Berlin in November 2011, and move to the Camera Austria in Graz in January 2012. The global prayers theme days, which will take place at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in February 2012, will include performance pieces, films, readings and lectures, providing a platform for an exchange of ideas with international guests and representatives of new religious formations. Scientific and audio-visual research will be complemented by new artistic and documentary works.
The project global prayers • redemption and liberation in the city was initiated by metroZones – Center for Urban Affairs e. V. and is executed jointly by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Europa-Universität Viadrina in collaboration with metroZones - Center for Urban Affairs e. V. It is a project at the Forum Transregionale Studien, which also significantly funds it. The project global prayers receives additional funding from the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung and the Goethe-Institut.