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Trialog Call for Papers on Spirituality & Urban Development

Trialog Call for Papers on Spirituality & Urban Development

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Published by Joanna Winter

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Published by: Joanna Winter on Apr 17, 2011
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For an Issue of “TRIALOG – A Journal for Planning and Building in the Third World”Title: Urban Development and Spirituality
Relevance of the topic
Urban development and spirituality may seem to link two very distant subjects. Spirituality isparticularly conspicuous by its absence in urban development practice/theory as well internationaldevelopment practice and its theoretical discourse. However, the empirical reality in the developingworld both, in the perceived “traditional” rural village environment or in the modern-oriented urbancontext, exhibit plenty of examples of the significance of spirituality and its importance to thepeople. In addition to this empirical evidence that spirituality matters in people’s lives across theworld, there seems to be a revival of spirituality and faith especially in the Western hemisphere as acritical response to the predominance of the scientific, materialist perspective of the universe. Thismovement is linked to philosophies and theories that emerge around the issue of integrating/unifying our specialized and compartmentalized knowledge systems.Urban life in its countless varieties has become the way of living for the majority of humankind. Thisis a significant marker or transformation of the human condition. The
de facto
absence of spiritualityin Western cities is visible in the total neglect of any link between urbanization or urbandevelopment and spirituality in the literature. Likewise, the revival of spirituality in the West has notentered the field of urban planning theory or planning practice, even though the implications may bemanifold. One reason why it is so hard to re-define, re-think and re-imagine the city in terms of thespiritual might be that “Large modern cities, as centres of human endeavour, tend to regardthemselves as centres of the universe and have effectively declared their independence from nature”(Girardet 2008: 5).It is disputed whether and to what extent urbanization also contributed to the progressingdisenchantment of people’s imaginaries. Many scholars maintain, the climax of this view of “TheSecular City” (Harvey Cox 1965) was reached in the 20th century. Yet only twenty years later Cox feltto observe a return of religion to the Secular City (Cox 1984). In any case, by the twentieth century,industrial societies in particular were strongly oriented to the cognitive, the rational, and the logical,with devastating consequences: science largely unrestrained by ethics (whether from religion oranywhere else) helped to deliver the most violent and most environmentally damaging century inhuman history (Gardner 2002: 9). At the same time, urbanization played a role in the modernistdevelopment path that was exported to the developing world with the same aim to ‘rationalise’those societies: “The organizing premise was the belief in the role of modernization as the only forcecapable of destroying archaic superstitions and relations, at what ever social, cultural, and politicalcost. Industrialization and urbanization were seen as the inevitable and necessarily progressiveroutes to modernization” (Escobar 2005: 86).A pivotal assumption of the above argument is that urbanization and the notion of development areboth causes and drivers of modernization, they are, just like industrialization and rational thought,part of what is commonly understood as “modernity”. This process resulted in a rigid separation of science and spirituality/religion, with the former rising to become the sole perspective of interpretingreality, the universe and everything else, and the latter being exiled in the name of secularity fromacademic discourse and the practice of life. In response to this development of epistemologies, thecritique of science (actually on “scientism”) and modernity coupled with advances in quantumphysics resulted in “new” scientific insights (e.g. complexity and chaos theory), endeavours inrecognizing the “Tao of Physics” by combining Western knowledge and Eastern wisdom which
subsequently gave rise in the past thirty years to meta-theoretical and integral philosophy thatattempt to reconcile the schism of matter and mind. Eventually, these emerging scientific andphilosophical insights - so it is assumed and expected and hoped - will trigger a new understanding of the world, a new cosmology.
Concept of the Issue
In addition to global challenges like climate change, financial crisis, food security, and other pressingissues, cities are facing a multitude of critical problems. Some are:
Increasing urbanization, human species turning into an urban species;
Increasing cosmopolitanisation of cities, multi-ethnic urban environments;
sustainability and climate change evoke questions of the spiritual dimension and a review of the human-nature relationship;
Social degradation/vulnerability in urban neighbourhoods: “mal-development” of children,youth and other marginalized groups.As a result of this brief introduction to the topic, a series of questions arise, which may be addressedin this issue:
How are religion and spirituality different? What is their relationship/interface?
What does spirituality mean in the context of planning, planning theory/practice and thepractitioner? Is it another analytical category for practitioners or an inherent dimension thatneeds to be practiced in some way?
How and why do city dwellers take recourse to spirituality? What is or may be the role(s) of spirituality for urban societies?
Which are the potentials of spirituality for the planning profession and urban developmentplanning? Case studies from different regions of the world?
Is it feasible to integrate spirituality with urban development? Its role in relation to verypractical approaches/instruments: governance, participation and communication, analysingand understanding the city and its inhabitants;
How is spirituality related to (human) development? What is or may be its role ininternational development?
In which way is spirituality expressed in an urban context in different parts of the world?
“Best practices” demonstrating the role of spirituality in urban development?Obviously, these are complex and sometimes fundamental questions which may not be answered ortackled conclusively in a TRIALOG issue. Its purpose is rather to introduce an altogether neglectedtopic to urban development and practitioners in an explorative fashion. Insofar it is much moreopening “Pandora’s box” to figure out some of the opportunities, potentials and, of course,difficulties by considering spirituality in urban development.Potential topics that may be covered in this issue:
Community development and spirituality
Ethnic co-existence, ethnic strife and the role of spirituality
Urban sustainability and climate change
Social degradation and marginalization
Spirituality and poverty reduction, social/environmental justice
What is TRIALOG?
A journal for architects, planners, sociologists, geographers, economists and developmentplanners.
A journal for the exchange of professional experience in the field of urban development in theThird World.
A journal for the presentation and discussion of new research results and for the discussion of recent concepts of development policies for urban change.
A journal of free discussions, of work reports and of documentation of alternative approaches.The thematic range of TRIALOG includes among other related topics: urbanization and housingpolicy/ architecture and regional cultures/ecology, technological transfer and appropriatetechnologies/rural development strategies.Each issue will be peer-reviewed.TRIALOG is a quarterly journal published in Germany. The journal recently celebrated the 25
 anniversary with its 100
Issue.The last issues were on
102/103 (3/09 4/09) Redefining the Urban
101 (2/09) Borders and Migration
100 (2/09) Urban Visions
99 (1/09) East Africa
98 (3/08) Forced Evictions
97 (2/08) Es wandelt sich
95/96 (4/07 1/08) Think future
94 (3/07) Housing Policies
93 (1/07) Imposing European Urban Structures
92 (1/07) Megacities
91 (4/06) Building on Disasters
90 (3/06) Urban Coalitions
89 (2/06) Controlling Urban Space
88 (1/06) Afghanistan
87 (4/05) Violence and Insecurity in Cities
Instructions for Contributors
For technical and editorial reasons please consider the following guidelines. Please avoid delays in publishing if these guidelines are not carefully considered.
The issue will be published in English.Publishing is for free, however, authors have to ensure the quality of English language and of graphics and photographs.Each author receives 3 copies.Each article should
not extend 18,000 characters
.Graphics and photographs must be send as separate files as jpg., tif or another format (not onlyincluded in the WORD text file).File type: MS WORDDo not copy and paste photographs from WORD documents as the resolution is too low for printing.Photographs have to have 300 dpi resolution at least.

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