I’ve been invited to attend a workshop on “Doing Asian Cities: The MPI-ARI-TISS-AKS-Shanghai Urban Aspirations Project” (5-6 June 2012, Singapore) as part of the MPI/AKS project on urban aspirations. It’s a chance to meet with other researchers working on the Asian megacities project in Mumbai, Shangai, Singapore, and Seoul. Just submitted the following abstract:
The urban ecology of religion: growth and redevelopment in Seoul
With some of the largest and most spectacular megachurches in the world located in the City of Seoul, it is easy to find impressive the material prosperity and political power associated with contemporary Protestantism in South Korea. It is also easy to overlook the fact that in contrast, nearly eighty percent of churches in Korea are quite small, with only fifty to two hundred members in their congregation. There is much theological reflection and political critiques concerning the growing gap between the rich and poor, corporate megachurches and vulnerable microchurches. This paper addresses the politics of scale and urban religion as they relate to aspirations for—and against—growth and (re)development in Seoul. In particular, I will discuss critical ethnographic methods including some new ideas for researching religion (e.g. “circle the church”) in the city.