Academic Events

Religion, Mobility and Urban Change in Britain and France Today

24 November 2016, Convened by Lucine Endelstein (CNRS, Toulouse), Leslie Fesenmyer (COMPAS, Oxford)

Maison Française d’Oxford, 2-10 Norham Road, Oxford OX2 6SE

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The aim of the colloquium is to bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers to explore the interplay between religion, mobility, and urban change in the contexts of France and Britain On the one hand, researchers have considered urban transformations, such as, suburbanisation and gentrification as securalised phenomena (for exceptions, see Dwyer et al. 2013 and Eade 2012) [1] and, on the other hand, the relationship between religion and space today is often seen as pertaining primarily to minorities and/or migrants. There remains a lack of attention to the interplay between religion and spatial and social mobilities and their impact on urban transformations.

In an effort to shed light on the relationship between religion and mobility, understood both in social and spatial dimensions, we would like to explore such urban transformations as gentrification and changing inner cities, processes of suburbanization, and the links between the suburban and the urban. What is the role of religion in home-making and residential mobilities or immobilities? In what ways might religion play a role in the social and moral revaluation of particular spaces ? Which places are becoming more or less valued and for whom? Thinking of mobility and urban change, what can we learn from comparing transformations of historically dominant religions (Anglicanism in Britain and Catholicism in France) and religions, such as, Islam, Pentecostalism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism? Can such comparisons help to move us beyond the opposition between notions of ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ and contribute to departicularizing processes that are often perceived as matters only pertaining to migrants?

We would like to consider similarities and differences between Paris and London, two major European cities in which global migrations have generated « super diverse spaces » and changed the religious landscapes of both inner cities and the suburbs. How do British and French models of and discourses about religion’s place in society (e.g. multiculturalism, laïcité) impact the interplay between religion, mobility and urban change? Conversely, in what ways is religious place-making transforming the place of religion in both societies?


1015 - 1030: Coffee

1030 - 1045: Welcome and introductory remarks: Lucine Endelstein (CNRS, Toulouse) and Leslie Fesenmyer (COMPAS, Oxford)

1045 - 1215: Panel
Laura Vaughan (UCL, London): The significance of urban space in sharing religious solidarities : London, 1685-2015
Jane Garnett (Wadham College, Oxford): History and a sense of place. Religion in diaspora in East London
Chair: Michael Keith (COMPAS, Oxford)

1215 - 1300: Lunch

1300 - 1500: Panel
Claire Dwyer (UCL, London): Making suburban faith: Negotiating space for worship in West London Yannick Fer (CNRS, Paris): ‘Why were all these coloured people not there?’: Protestant events, sociospatial inequalities and public visibility in Paris
Maria-Luisa Caputo (University of Paris 1): "Rebuilding a community in a suburban space: the Jewish community in Saint Brice sous Forêt"
Chair: Linda McDowell (St John’s College, Oxford)

1500 - 1515: Coffee

1515 - 1600: Concluding remarks and discussion, John Eade (University of Roehampton)


[1] Dwyer, Claire, David Gilbert et Bindi Shah. 2013. « Faith and suburbia: secularisation, modernity and the changing geographies of religion in London’s suburbs », Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 38, no 3 : 403-419. Eade, John. 2012. « Religion, home-making and migration across a globalising city: Responding to mobility in London », Culture and Religion, vol. 13, no 4 : 469-483.