Urbanizing Faith is a multicity research program that examines the conjunction of religious faith and urbanization through considering:
• The ways in which the changing spatialization and sociability of urban life is navigated through religious practices and propositions, which serve as vehicles of contestation, consolidation, and coherence. How religious expression and organization contribute to specificities of distinct urban systems, and how they institute both social-spatial divides and improbable affiliations.
• The role of faith-based institutions in the cultivating improvisations of pathways for young people to secure life and livelihood for themselves. The conditions under which faith-based practices become urban practices, working towards the future, and how they materialize as concepts and capacities to learn how to function collectively, when the terms of affiliation are not prescribed. Here, improvisations of pathways are ways to acquire literacy in a changing urban world: for literacy to read the urban, to understand the rules of the various games played in the urban context, to adjust and adapt to new grammars, to find connections and use them for new, only emerging purposes require a mixture of faith and trust or distrust, of public familiarity, and of courage and creativity.
• The ways in which religious faith is expressed as an inter-mixing of different forces, capabilities, inclinations, styles, and opportunities that stretch and constrain what it is possible to do for residents of any given background or status. That no matter what formal structures, stories, powers, or institutions come to bear on what take place, no matter how they leave their mark, that there is a constant process of encountering, pushing and pulling, wheeling and dealing, caring for and undermining that tends to keep most everyone “in play”—able to manoeuvre and pursue. That this intermixing is neither clearly virtuous or destructive, and entails shifting attention away from the predominance of human inhabitation as the centering node of urban development or sustainability toward ways of valuing the multiplicity of encounters possible in urban contexts.
• The ways in which intensive and extensive processes of urbanization at a planetary scale engender orientations to the present and future that act like faith, and where, problematically, urban living increasingly requires a faith in urbanity, in its redemptive powers to overcome impediments of all kinds and produce new human and material capacities.
The Urbanizing Faith program consists of several discrete yet interrelated projects. Each project emphasises different aspects of the thematic focus of the program and seek to embody different scales, sectors and methodologies of work. These projects include: