"Spaces of urban religion as public spaces? A comparative study of cases from Germany and the United States"
The study of urban religion often focusses the appropriation of public space as its central characteristic (Orsi, 1999; Rüpke, 2020). Accordingly, the overlapping of the production of religious and secular spaces, as well as the processing of resulting conflicts are often the focus of research. Contrary to this, in cases of new urban centralizations, in which new centers and associated peripheries are formed (Lefebvre, 2014), religious actors appear as producers and partly as owners of public space: In the context of new development areas and decentralized shopping centers in Germany the Christian majority churches are strongly involved in the production of public space through private investors or neighborhood managers. In the United States congregations even become the owners of so-called Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) for example through property associations.
Based on three cases from Oberhausen, Hamburg and New York City, I explore the extent to which these public spaces supported by religious congregations are spaces of public religion in the sense of its deprivatization (Casanova, 2008), if those churches act as parts of the civil society and if the phenomenon is to be considered as a sign of the post-secular city (Knott, 2010; Beaumont & Baker, 2011) or as a sacralization (Krech, 2011) of public space. This needs to be taken in the light of a change in urban spatial logic, which is characterized in urban development research as the Americanization of the European city, also referred to as the market orientation of public planning (Jessen, 2002). Last but not least, the problem needs to be addressed if religious communities can produce public spaces at all if the criteria of the incomplete integration of the individual in the public sphere (Siebel, 2007) and the commonality of the public (Arendt, 1960) are compared to the comprehensive religious integration of the human being (Gabriel, 1999).