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Symposium: Urban Risk and Religion

Our Senior Researcher Marian Burchardt co-organises a Symposium on "Urban Risk and Religion: Economy, Health and Security" on 17 November 2017 at the University of Amsterdam:

Religion is often portrayed as a source of protection against risk, offering solace, care, and prosperity, or conversely, as exacerbating violence and risk. This symposium explores how relationships between religion and risk play out in urban space in the fields of health, economy and security. We propose the concept of urban risk as a starting point to explore a range of religious practices that do not neatly fit into functionalist descriptions and theoretical frameworks. Construing urban risk as objective and material adversities that affect people’s lives in urban space we are interested in the religious ideas and practices that contribute to configuring this field of adversities.  Going beyond causal approaches, we look at how religion and risk overlap in the different domains. After introducing and discussing three new books on these topics, different case studies will be presented. Covering cities around the world, the presentations range from discussions about the intersections between religious groups, gangs and security forces to the role of religious business courses and health programs that stimulate particular entrepreneurial techniques and risk behaviors.

The workshop and books launch is a collaboration between the Center for Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam, the Department of Anthropology at Utrecht University and Leipzig University, involving researchers working in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.


9.00: Coffee/Tea  

9.15-9.30: Welcome and Introduction  

9.30-11.00: Session 1 – Books launch

A discussion on the basis of three books by Birgit Meyer (Utrecht University) and Rijk van Dijk (African Studies Centre, Leiden University)

The books:


11.00-11.15: Break


11.15-13.00: Session 2 – Religion, Risk and Health

Chair: Linda van de Kamp (Centre for Urban Studies, University of Amsterdam)

Discussant: Kim Knibbe (University of Groningen)

  1. Pamela Pricket (University of Amsterdam) Managing Madness at the Mosque: Informal Social Control in an Urban Community  
  2. Ajay Gandhi (Leiden University/University of Amsterdam) Endurance: Lessons from Precariousness and Misfortune in Delhi  
  3. Kristine Krause (University of Amsterdam) Spiritual securitization and hodological care in urban Pentecostal practices


13.00-14.00 Lunch


14.00-15.45: Session 3 – Religion, Risk and Security

Chair: Martijn Oosterbaan (Utrecht University)

Discussant: Rivke Jaffe (Centre for Urban Studies, University of Amsterdam)

  1. Carly Machado (Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)  "Therapeutic Communities" and Drug Policies in Brazil: Religion, Justice, Health and the Production of Salvation and Condemnation in Urban Territories  
  2. Laurens Bakker (University of Amsterdam)  Public Extremism and Protection in Indonesia. What are the Risks?  
  3. Matthew Wilhelm Solomon (The African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand)  Urban insecurity and ontological orientations in inner-city Johannesburg


15.45-16.00: Break


16.00-17.45: Session 4 – Religion, Risk and Economy

Chair: Marian Burchardt (KFG "Multiple Secularities", Leipzig University)

Discussant: Leilah Vevaina (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)

  1. Azonseh Ukah (University of Cape Town)  The Economy of Sacred Estates: Urban Risks and the ‘Real-Estate Churches’ in Lagos, Nigeria  
  2. José Mapril (Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA) / New University of Lisbon)  A Tale of a Mosque: Urban Regeneration, Risks and Place Making in Lisbon  
  3. John Boy (Centre for Urban Studies, University of Amsterdam)  Faith, Work and the City: Religious Entrepreneurship and Urban Space in Evangelical Church Planting


17.45-18.15 Concluding Remarks  

18.15 Drinks


Conveners: Linda van de Kamp, Marian Burchardt and Martijn Oosterbaan

Registration: You are welcome to join, please send an email to

Location: B/C, Common Room 5th floor, Roeterseilandcampus - building B/C/D (entrance B/C), Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, 1018 WV Amsterdam.