Sanctuaries of urban sociability: What can we learn from Tokyo

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The first part of the paper unfolds the idea of sanctuary. It is a broad and yet quiet delimited concept; broad in the sense that it includes more than a religious sanctuary in an orthodox sense of the term, and delimited because it is defined with a point of departure in the religious sanctuary: It shares qualities with, or can be deprived of, the orthodoxy of the religious sanctuary. Secondly, they function as sanctuaries in two historical contexts. They can be studied either as an integral part of the political regime or alongside the public realm of the political elite. My focus is the latter. Thirdly, they are not perceived of as pockets of resistance; however, the sanctuaries studied have offered possibilities for acquiring a social etiquette, aesthetic skills and a social morality which point beyond the local community or the lodge formations, irregular intrigues and power plays of the national power elite.

The second part of the paper has its focus upon religious sanctuaries of the utopian early phase of modernism, more precisely Edo-Tokyo during the Tokugawa era (1600-1863). Today, it is acknowledged that citizens of post industrial societies attach themselves to religions in response to, and in conditions of, social change and unrest. We see a revival of religions in modern urban societies, or the birth of ‘The Post Secular City’ (Beaumont 2008). Less attention has been paid to similar mechanisms in the era of early modernism. The paper points to ways by which religious sanctuaries were reinvented during Tokugawa. In this historical period Buddhism and Shinto were thoroughly intertwined (Reader 2005). People of Edo ‘picked and mixed’ from both religions. The focus is on issues of practice and on levels of engagement in a variety of events as indices of religiosity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date15 Nov 2008
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2008
EventReligion, politics and the post secular city - Groningen, Netherlands
Duration: 12 Nov 200815 Nov 2008


ConferenceReligion, politics and the post secular city

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