Religions, Cultural Memory and Heritage in the City: Reassembling a Plural Scenario

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 December 2024 | Viewed by 224

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
Fondazione Bruno Kessler, 38122 Trento, Italy
Interests: religious art and architecture; virtual reality; digital humanities; shared religious places

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Guest Editor
Department of Humanities, Roma Tre University, 00154 Rome, Italy
Interests: history of monasticism; geography of religions; religion and urban spaces; shared religious places

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In contemporary European and US society, within the framework of UNESCO 2003 Convention on Cultural Heritage urban spaces, religious places, such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples, as well as informal spaces, such as gardens, parks, and secular buildings, are the foundation for constructing tangible and intangible religious heritage (oral traditions, collective memories, shared practices), However, in an increasingly multicultural and multireligious landscape, there is a glaring knowledge gap around the role of religious minorities in the sedimentation of cultural memories and heritage in the city. In this Special Issue, we combine spatial and material approaches to religions and memory studies. This approach allows us to investigate various aspects, such as religious architecture and its symbolic value, the strategies and practices of communities in using and preserving religious spaces and artifacts in urban environments, and the complex historical and social dynamics involved in the local spatial and material constructions of plural and mixed cultures in cities.  According to Becci, Burchardt, and Casanova (2013) and Knott (2005), to move beyond the paradigm of urban secularization, spatial studies are essential for understanding religion and religious diversity in cities. The study of religious spaces looks at religious buildings and their symbolic significance, as well as the visibility or invisibility of religious communities and how they create, maintain, and seek out places (Becci, Burchardt, and Giorda 2017).

We will focus on the creation and preservation of cultural memory (Assmann 2011), as well as how official history incorporates public memory (Houdeck and Phillips 2017), tackling different cases in US and European urban contexts. Drawing upon the work of scholars from various fields, including the history of religions, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and law, we delve into the political function of polarizing memories over disputes of specific shared religious spaces (Hayden et al., 2016). We will also address the role played by religious minorities (Stausberg, Van Der Haven, and Baffelli, 2023) in the creation of multiple memories in urban contexts. We deem this strategy to be particularly effective for reorganizing a dynamic field, where material and immaterial elements coexist with official history and memories.

The Special Issue aims to investigate the following questions in US and European urban contexts

  • How can religious places be a source of production of a tangible (i.e., spaces of worship, namely art and architecture, as well as objects and documents) and intangible heritage (i.e., collective memory, traditions, and processions, liturgies, oral traditions, and shared practices).?
  • How is this heritage preserved and passed on in the cultural memory of religious groups?
  • What have communities created, and how has it been shared?
  • What are the material and immaterial places where cultural and religious memories are debated and preserved in an urban context?


Assmann, A. Cultural Memory and Western Civilization: Functions, Media, Archives; Cambridge University Press: 2011.

Becci, I., Burchardt, M. and Casanova, J. Topographies of Faith: Religion in Urban Spaces; Brill: 2013.

Becci, I., Burchardt, M. and Giorda, M. ‘Religious super-diversity and spatial strategies in two European cities’. Current Sociology 2017, 65, 73-91.

Hayden, R. et al. Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites and Spaces. Routledge: 2016.

Houdek, M. and Phillips, K., 2017. ‘Public Memory’. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication.

Knott, K. The Location of Religion: A Spatial Analysis; Equinox: London, UK, 2005.

Nora, P. Les Lieux de Mémoire; Gallimard: 1992.

Stausberg, M., Van Der Haven, A. and Baffelli, E. 'Religious Minorities: Conceptual Perspectives'. Religious Minorities Online. 2023. DOI: 10.1515/rmo.23389320.

Dr. Angelica Federici
Dr. Mariachiara Giorda
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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  • history of religions
  • memory studies
  • urban religion
  • spatial turn

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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