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Numéro 96
Octobre 2004

Urbanité et liens religieux

Thierry Paquot
Christian Theology and Urbanization

Christian theologians long feared the
modern city. After the Second World
War, a number of missionary clerics par-ticipated
alongside secular researchers
in sociological surveys focusing on the
mobility and individualism of uprooted
and atomized city dwellers. Their aim
was to adapt pastoral care to a changing
world. Various theological approaches,
developed in Protestant circles, were
progressively to consider urban exis-tence
as an important issue for the rene-wal
of the Christian message.

Claude Langlois
Catholicism encounters the City From the Post-War Period to the Ecumenical Council

Missionaries of the Eglise de France
were to encounter the urban question
when they set out to evangelize the working
class in the immediate postwar
period. It was at this moment that they
discovered the hovels, the slums, the
suburbs and the inequalities of urban
life that were documented during the same period by numerous social surveys.
Despite this wealth of information,
the city did not become a significant
theme of the Catholic pastoral message
during the postwar boom period.

Brigitte Bleuzen
Catholic Social Initiatives in the Suburbs

The history of the Fils de la Charité in
the Paris suburbs shows the evolution
of missionary strategies used among
the working class. From the Second
World War to the appearance of the first
highrise estates, priests sought to
make contact with workers and their
families. In the sixties, they started to
get involved in the world of work and
workers’ struggles. Since the eighties,
new fronts have emerged in the form of
initiatives against exclusion and intervention
in government urban policy

Pascale Philifert
Funeral Rites and Burial Places put to the Test of the City The Example of Morocco

Islamic funeral rites are organized
according to family and community
rules that are increasingly out of tune
with urban life in today’s Morocco. Traffic
jams caused by funeral processions
are no longer really put up with, while
the habit of going to the cemetery is
becoming less common and is at times
contested in the name of a strict Islam.
Burial places’ location and extension
clash with some urban projects.

Anne-Marie Brisebarre
EidulAdha Sacrificial Sites in Cities

Muslims’ yearly celebration of Eid commemorates
Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) act
of total piety when he went to sacrifice
his son to God, who fortunately replaced
the innocent victim with a lamb.
In North and West Africa, family festivities
completely take over the cities
and give a massive boost to the service
industries. In Europe, after a period of
special dispensations tolerated to
varying degrees by nonMuslims, the
sacrifice has been shifted to the outs
kirts of the city where it is carried out in
adjoining farms or in abattoirs under

Mona Harb
The Hezbollah Suburbs. Alternative Images of Post-War Beirut

The headquarters of the Hezbollah
Shiite political party in the southern
suburbs of Beirut is presented to the
world as a centre of instability. Precise
rules govern, however, social and economic
life inside this ghettolike area.
The political movement is backed up
by a powerful symbolic arsenal of posters,
slogans and a TV channel that pervades
public space and keeps the fighting
spirit alive against Israel and the

Emmanuel Bioteau, Nicolae Popa
Religious pluralism and Urban Recomposition in Western Romania

In contemporary Romanian cities, the
presence of Catholic cathedrals in the
old centres and orthodox edifices in the
inner suburbs has been handed down
from the country’s (Hapsburgian)
imperial past. The programme put in
place during the Ceaucescu era to
demolish the country’s religious heritage
was unable to be carried through
successfully. Since the 1989 revolution,
Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and NeoProtestant
churches vie fiercely with
one another for influence over urban
planning choices and a broader local

Jean-René Bertrand
Religious Santiago : from Context to Pretext

The religious past of Santiago de Compostela,
now the capital of the Galicia
region in Spain, continues to mark the
city’s development. Humanitarian aid
organizations and facilities for pilgrims
have sprung up alongside Catholic
schools. Over the last fifteen years, the
rapid rise in the number of pilgrims
has given a boost to the tourist industry
and prompted it to expand its activities
to the urban region as a whole. Finding
itself in a position of symbolic strength,
the church discretely takes advantage
of local urban planning activity.

Régis Dericquebourg
The Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Places of Worship in France

Imported from the United States, the
Jehovah’s Witness movement established
itself in France over the course of
the twentieth century, progressively
spreading out from the mining towns
in the North. New members are recruited
within the large metropolitan
labour market areas and poorly educated
milieux. Even though they proclaim
that the end of the world is near, the
Jehovah’s Witnesses are beginning to
equip themselves with functional
places of worship on the outskirts of
the city where the price of land is

Hervé Vieillard-Baron
Suburban Islam : from Visible Entity to Ostensible Presence?

Having its origins in the immigration
of the postwar boom period, France’s
population of practicing Muslims is
mainly concentrated in the suburbs of
large cities. After practicing their religion
in semiclandestine conditions for
a long time, Muslims are now seeking
more public places of worship. The
spectre of Islamism maintained by the
media evades both the social question
and the ongoing process of cultural

Adelkader Belbhari, Lela Bencharif, André Micoud
Islam’s Difficult Visibility. The Ecology of Places of Worship in St-Etienne

The industrial city of St. Etienne has
welcomed North African migrants
since the First World War. Although
under close company supervision, Muslim
workers continued to practice their
religion in semisecrecy. With the population
setting down roots in the seventies,
there was to be an increasing
demand for a greater public visibility
of places of worship in the city. Housed, however, in prefabricated buildings,
industrial wastelands or public
property set aside for the social sector,
Muslims’ new places of worship have
not really as yet won public recognition.

Catherine Wihtol de Wenden
Cities, Religion and Immigration
Annie Benveniste
HighRise Estates and Community Particularities. Religious Activities on the Outskirts

With the fragmentation of today’s cities,
there is a burgeoning of interstices
where novel forms of religious involvement
take place. In the highrises of
Sarcelles in the Paris region, the Jewish
community has developed syncretic
forms of expression while, at the same
time, accommodating within its midst
profound differences between various
groups of the diaspora. These vectors
of internal and external tension reproduce
social divisions and spatial assignations,
but also go beyond them.

Martine Hovanessian
Symbolic Forms of the Armenian Diaspora in France

Religious belief, with its accompanying
rites, constitutes one of the mainstays
of Armenian identity in France. The
Armenian Apostolic Church has, as a
result, overcome political divisions
within the diaspora. Along with the universal
values of the Christian faith and
the welcome accorded to deportees in
urban areas, French cities’ raising of
monuments commemorating the
Armenian people is a further factor of

Sophie Bava
Urban Dahira Mouridism’s Centres of Power

The migration to France at the turn of
the twentieth century of the Mouride
Brotherhood, a religious movement
founded by the Prophet Amadou
Bamba in the city of Touba in central
Senegal, is set within the framework
of the movement’s international mercantile
network. The communities in
exile are essentially structured by associations
named dahira that, after having
accompanied the movement’s urbanization,
are now asserting its transnational
identity. Variously allied with or
opposed to traders, Mouride intellectuals
are gaining influence by recalling
the Prophet’s humanist and anticolonial

Vasoodeven Vuddamalay
Ethnic Minority Businesses and Religious Spaces in Large Cities
Anne-Sophie Lamine
When Cities call on Religions

Over the last two decades, some mayors
of large French cities have taken the
initiative of organizing meetings between
churches of different denominations.
In Marseilles, Roubaix or Montreuil,
information and exchange systems
are becoming established on a
longterm basis and take various legal
forms. Certain world or local events
give momentum to these interdenominational
encounters, at the risk of
causing a confusion between religious
and social or ethnic reality.

Albert Lévy
The Crossed Destinies of La Madeleine and the Pantheon

From the Ancien Regime to the Third
Republic, La Madeleine and the Pantheon
have crossed destinies. At first a
royal square, La Madeleine was to
become a church while the Pantheon
was first a church before becoming a
civic temple. From one symbolic vocation
to the other, the two edifices have
known several regimes in which the
political and religious registers have
been variously interlinked or kept apart.