On November 3 and 4, 2016, Manduhai Buyandelgar, associate professor in MIT Anthropology and 2016 STL Lab Faculty Seed Fund recipient, participated in a Humboldt Foundation Workshop in Berlin titled Religion and the City: Inter-Religious Exchanges in Urban Environments. More than forty scholars from around the world questioned the largely established idea that religion tends to retreat from public life in urban areas.
Prof. Manduhai's paper was titled "From Secrecy to Flamboyance and In-Between: Shamanism, Migration and Urban Life in Mongolia," and examined the dramatic expansion and diversification of the religious landscape and urban life in post-atheist, post-socialist Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar. The paper argues that religious practices contribute to urban life in at least two distinct ways. One, the location and services of Catholic churches, mosques, and Buddhist temples add to the structural and economic order of the city as they are mostly built near markets and hospitals. Two, less publicly visible religious practices like shamanism also add to the construction of meaning in the context of rapidly transforming urban environments and new emotional and social forms. Both types of religious practice reveal that cities are much more than a series of spaces, services, and roads, but are inter-subjectively perceived and emotionally charged arenas.
Learn more about Prof. Buyandelger's research and publications by visiting her faculty profile, and read about her STL Lab-funded project "Disjuncture and Resilience: A Holistic Approach to Real Estate Development in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia."