(C2-23) Topography of the Multireligious. The Extension of Parishes and New Houses of Prayer in 19th- and 20th-Century Big Cities

The process of rapid urban growth and the establishment of urbanity as a way of life in the late 19th century was accompanied by an extension of the parish network and by the construction of church buildings and community centres – the formation of big cities and parish or religious communities were closely interwoven. In the course of the industrial revolution, the 19th century saw a strong denominational mixing and a diversification of religious choices in the form of minority denominations, congregational chapels and – within the Catholic Church – a multitude of newly formed orders. Furthermore, after emancipation legislation, Jewish religious communities appeared with new self-confidence in public perception. All these religious forms of parish developed a multitude of institutions alongside the actual sacred spaces and their rectories, church halls, nursery schools (kindergartens), libraries, denominational hospitals and other charitable facilities.

The project investigates the correlation between urbanisation and the extension of parishes until the 1920s, using the old imperial city of Dortmund as an example, which at that time received a tremendous growth impulse and became an industrially oriented big city. Particularly by applying cartographic material and evidence as regards building history, it will be analysed in what way novel religious centres – acting as functional, visual and acoustic landmarks in the urban space, thus making it possible to experience multi-religiosity in the modern city – developed in the quarters simultaneously to the church building boom.
What conflicts between old and new parishes and between representatives of the different denominations arose from the spatial coexistence? To what extent was the building of churches factored into urban planning, and how did the urban planners manage denominational multiplicity in their work? What was the significance of representative forms for the new parish churches and church plantings? Are there any typological differentiations between the church plantings in working-class neighbourhoods and middle-class quarters?

On this basis, it will be asked how congregational life was organised in the decades around 1900, how representatives of different denominations and religions perceived themselves and each other, and what forms of coexistence emerged. Did conflicts, non-acknowledgement or a mutual coming to terms of the parishes, which were only a few streets apart, determine the everyday life of the priest and the parish?
In two publications, the project – which is run in cooperation with the Institute of Comparative Urban History (IstG, Münster) – will develop historical cartographical principles and, based on these, a series of thematic maps on urban development and on sacred topography with explanatory, interpreting texts, which outline the city as a multireligious space of action.

The Project is part of coordinated project group Dealing with religious diversity.