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Call for Papers International Workshop Territories of Faith. Religion, Urban Planning and Demographic Change in Post-War Europe, 1945-1975. Leuven, 3-4 July 2017

The research group Architectural Cultures of the Recent Past (ARP) of KU Leuven and KADOC, the Documentation and Research Centre on Religion, Culture and Society of KU Leuven, are organizing an international workshop on religion, urban planning and demographic change in post-war Europe as a prelude to an edited volume on this topic, to be published by an international academic press.

In earlier times, most settlements in Europe developed around the local parish church, the community’s spatial and social nucleus. The processes of industrialization, urbanization and secularization have reversed this mechanism; already in the mid-20th century, the place of the church (both as a religious institution and as a building) was no longer self-evident. As a response, the various branches of Christian religion devised particular strategies to preserve the once-evident unity of ideology, territory and society. Many Catholic dioceses, for example, established consulting bodies for the strategic planning and financing of religious infrastructure in the newly urbanized areas. This workshop seeks to go beyond the traditional focus on liturgical renewal or modernist paradigms in the study of post-war church architecture. Rather, we propose to study the boom in religious infrastructure in Europe between 1945 - 1975 as the instrument and outcome of a particular interaction between religion, (urban) planning and demographic change.

Addressing this issue in a transnational (European) and comparative perspective, this workshop aims to position the religious authorities in a field of tensions between planned strategic effort and pragmatic circumstantial adaptations on the one hand, and innovation and tradition on the other. This, in turn, will offer an insight in how organized religion manages and marks its presence within a given territory, a burning issue in the light of the ever growing religious diversity in the contemporary urban environment.

We call for chapter-length papers (between 5000 and 8000 words) that address (one of) the issues mentioned above on the base of one or more case studies. The workshop will focus on the initiatives of the Catholic Church, but we also encourage contributions dealing with other denominations or religions. Papers should be based on original research and be clear in structure, precise in focus and make clear statements about the various forms of agency at stake and their effect upon the material organization of religion.

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Practical information and deadlines.