Prof. Dr. Ursula Rao
Areas of interest
- Urban anthropology, urban religion
- Role of media and material culture for social change
- Governance and technologies
Research project: Religious territory and secular terrain. The boundary work of temple building in urban India
This project follows the making and unmaking of sacred terrain within secular urban space through “insurgent architecture” and contested religious rituals in the central Indian state capital of Bhopal. The case studies describe the processes by which Hindus sanctify space and anchor divine powers in urban environments in order to establish a space for the cohabitation of humans and gods. Gods and goddesses manifest themselves and they must be evoked and welcomed. Worshippers, priests or ascetics need to recognise and nurture divine agents in order to secure their benevolent presence on earth and among the community. However, the question of what is necessary and appropriate is highly contested among Hindus, and clashes with notions of secular space invoked by the city administration or heritage committees. Boundary conflicts concern the encroachment of temples on main roads, the making of religious spaces in public parks, or notions of necessary distance between religious buildings belonging to different religious communities, e.g. mosques and temples. There are also conflicts about how to organise the respectful treatment of religious statues in museums and which ritual activities may be permitted in heritage protected sacred buildings. By analysing these conflicts the project conceptualises the processes by with religious and secular spaces are interlaced and disentangled, creating concrete yet flexible religious boundaries.
Professor of Anthropology, Institute of Anthropology, Leipzig University (Germany)
Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney (Australia)
Senior Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney
Habilitation, venia legendi in Anthropology, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg (Germany)
Assistant professor, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg
Research Associate, Heidelberg University
PhD (Dr. phil.), Anthropology, Heidelberg University
Rao, Ursula. “Media Hinduismus,” in Hinduism in India. Modern and Contemporary Movements. Edited by Will Sweetman and Aditya Malik, 123–40, Delhi: Sage, 2016.
Rao, Ursula. “Inter-publics’ Hindu Mobilization beyond the Bourgeois Public Sphere.” Religion & Society, 2 (2011): 90–105.
Rao, Ursula. “Caste and the Desire for Belonging.” Asian Studies Review, 33/4 (2009): 483–99.
Rao, Ursula. “Contested Spaces. Temple Building and the Recreation of Religious Boundaries in Contemporary Urban India,” in On the Margins of Religion. Edited by Frances Pine and João Pina-Cabral, 81–96. Oxford: Berghahn, 2008.
Rao, Ursula. “Partition in Contemporary Struggles over Religious Spaces in Bhopal,” in The Partition Motif in Contemporary Conflicts. Edited by Smita Tewari Jassal and Eyal Ben-Ari, 297–320. Delhi: Sage, 2007.
Rao, Ursula. “Ritual in Society,” in Theorizing Rituals. Edited by Jens Kreinath, Jan Snoek, and Michael Stausberg, 143–60. Leiden: Brill, 2006.
Rao, Ursula. Negotiating the Divine. Temple Religion and Temple Politics in Contemporary Urban India. Delhi: Manohar, 2003.
Rao, Ursula. Kommunalismus in Indien. Eine Darstellung der Wissenschaftlichen Debatte über Hindu-Muslim Konflikte. Halle/Saale: Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, 2003. http://www.suedasien.uni-halle...
Rao, Ursula. “How to Prove Divinities? Experiencing and Defending Divine Agency in a Modern Urban Indian Space.” Religion, 32/1 (2001): 1–11.
Rao, Ursula. „Eine Frage des Glaubens. ‚Illegale‘ Tempel und der Kampf um die Gestaltung des urbanen Raums in Indien.“ Sociologus, 502 (2000): 145–74. http://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fa...
Rao, Ursula and Klaus-Peter Köpping, eds. Im Rausch des Rituals. Gestaltung und Transformation der Wirklichkeit durch körperliche Performanz. Hamburg: Lit, 2000.