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Contested Space in a Global City: The Changing Religious Landscape of Multicultural London John Eade CRONEM (Centre for Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity.

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Presentation on theme: "Contested Space in a Global City: The Changing Religious Landscape of Multicultural London John Eade CRONEM (Centre for Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity."— Presentation transcript:

1 Contested Space in a Global City: The Changing Religious Landscape of Multicultural London John Eade CRONEM (Centre for Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism) Surrey and Roehampton Universities, UK

2 Urban Modernity  The Western city as centre of secular modernity  Changing cities: globalisation, multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism and the post- secular city

3 From Private to Public Space: Religion and Global Migration  Large scale migration after Second World War: ,355,400 people speaking over 300 languages.  30.6% from non-white group and 42% belong to groups other than white British (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_groups_in_L ondon )

4 From Private to Public Space: Religion and Global Migration  1960s and 1970s use of private accommodation by non-Christians  1980s onwards – taking over mainstream public secular and religious buildings  1980s onwards – constructing purpose- built prominent buildings  Wider perspective – global and local processes of religious affirmation

5 Negotiating with the State  Sacralisation process shaped not just by religious leaders and organisations but also minority political leaders, entrepreneurs and community organisations  State control through planning regulations and political and ideological disputes

6 Negotiating with the State  Minority religious groups have to learn rules of the secular planning game but Muslim groups in particular face a variety of obstacles  Similarities with other W. European countries as retreat from multiculturalism develops after 2001 (9/11, 7/7 etc)

7 The Links between Global and Local: Three Different Mosques in London’s East End  Transnational migration and minority ethnic groups in London’s dark, exotic east – Bangladeshi and Somali Muslims in Tower Hamlets  Moving east – like Jewish and Irish settlers Bangladeshis are moving into Newham, Waltham Forest and Redbridge  Newham in particular goes global – the development of the Lea Valley industrial area for the Olympics

8 Brick Lane Mosque, E. London: Multicultural Succession and a Community Mosque?

9 East London Mosque: A Reformist, Global and Central Mosque?

10 Abby Mills Mosque, Newham: A Prime Site Next to the Olympics Village

11 Abbey Mills Mosque: Tabligh Jamaat and the Global City

12 Proposed Abbey Mills Redevelopment: The ‘Mega Mosque’

13 Opposition to the Proposal   Despite support from the Labour Council leader, Tabligh Jamaat failed to play the secular planning game   Opposed by various local groups including Christian People’s Alliance, other Muslims   Bogey of terrorism exploited through local and global means   January 2009: proposal looked to have failed

14 Not Just Islam – Other Minority Religious Projects  Controversy did not just surround plans involving mosques and madrassahs  Local resistance to large scale projects proposed by other minorities - Hindus and Christian – also sometimes emerged

15 Pentecostalist Church  Rapid growth of Pentecostal groups globally  In UK supported predominantly by those with origins in Africa and the Caribbean  Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) has strong London following

16 KICC and Olympics  Affected by the Olympic site development since it was required to move from its Hackney premises in September 2008  Plan to move to an industrial site further east in Havering borough

17 ‘8,000-seats at a cost of £70m’

18 ‘Mega-Church’  The Sunday Times, October 29, 2006 ‘London to get £35m mega-church’:  Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo has commissioned architects to design Britain’s first US-style “mega-church” with an amphitheatre and television studio.

19 ‘Mega-Church’  ‘The 8,000-seat capacity of the £35m building, on a disused industrial site in Rainham, east London, will dwarf Liverpool Cathedral, the country’s largest Anglican church, which can seat 3,000’.  ‘It is modelled on arena-style evangelical churches spreading across the American Bible Belt, which have a capacity for up to 18,000 worshippers’.

20 ‘Mega-Church’  ‘The building is partly funded by an estimated £13.5m windfall from taxpayers to compensate the church for having to make way from its present site, an East London factory, for the 2012 Olympics. The London Development Agency says it bought the site at the market price’

21 ‘Mega-Church’  ‘Ashimolowo’s Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) teaches a controversial “health and wealth” version of Christianity. It tells its followers, largely of African origin and living in deprived areas, that God wants people to be rich and healthy.’

22 Secular Rational Opposition: Internet Debates “Councillors unanimously objected to the [proposal] …. due to the inadequacy of local transport facilities’ ‘development would conflict with the strategic employment policy for the area’ ‘the site would be a poor location for a use of the scale and nature proposed’

23 Local Residents: Cultural Factors  ‘It’s a bizarre turn of events. Britain is a Christian Country and yet we allow Mosques to go up in the name of multi-culturalism, yet a church is denied permission. … Had it been a business park, a factory, a cinema or even a nightclub I imagine the outcome would have been somewhat different.’

24 Local Residents: Economic Factors  ‘Contrary to some people’s beliefs, had this been an application for a cinema or a nightclub, it would also have been turned down! This land was bought with public money to create jobs. The KICC offered 75 jobs (all of which were already filled by people living in Hackney) so offered residents precisely nothing’.

25 Local Residents: Size  ‘Rainham residents adore our area, welcome regeneration, and believe we could be sitting in the future docklands! But no part of that involves a giant church of American proportions as we are not america! We are happy for the KICC to have small churches the way every other religion has. The giant church the KICC propose is a Want not a NEED’

26 Conclusion  Despite intensity of opposition, fears and hostilities have usually died away and the new buildings have become accepted as part of the locality – Nimbyism  My previous work on the Shia Muslim Northolt and Sunni Muslim East London Mosque developments during the 1980s

27 Official Support for Large Scale Mosque Projects  Despite ‘9/11’, ‘7/7’ etc local politicians and planners have gradually come to welcome new religious sites as reflection of changing economic and cultural environment of their localities  Reflects multicultural change, local/global links, move from industrial to post-industrial society

28 Sacralising Space in a Global City  What is different now is globalised nature of local struggles  Global multicultural complexity of London limits comparison with other British cities, which Olympics has made even clearer  Religious/secular divide refracted through disputes over grand religious projects

29 Sacralising Space in a Global City – Secular Processes  Disputes outlined here reveal the usual secular issues bound up with state institutions  Need by the developers to learn the rules of the planning game  Concerns shared by politicians, planners and residents with regard to traffic, noise, parking and jobs

30 Sacralising Space in the Global City – Cultural Heritage  More interestingly, symbols frequently established link between local religious space and the Established Church.  Anglican Church still retains a dominant position symbolically in the public imagination  New religious groups are understood in relation to that Church

31 Sacred and Secular in British Cities  Increasing importance of religious place- making in ethnic and racial dynamics of contemporary British cities  In wider historical perspective debate about the ‘post-secular city’ may actually reflect a growing awareness of continuities with 19 th and early 20 th century urban society  as hegemony of post-Second World War secular welfare state declines

32 Translation and History  Translation needed for incorporating minorities into the public sphere ‘are not the sole responsibility of the religious, but must be cooperative’ (Calhoun)  Yet, ‘histories of mutual engagement that produce both common understandings and citizens able to understand each other are not simply matters of translation or advances of reason’  ‘They are also particular histories that forge particular cultural connections and commonalities’.  transformation/ transformation/http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2008/09/15/translation-and- transformation/


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