Creative Transformations: Islam, Lived Religion, and Urban Cultures in Germany

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 134 (University of Glasgow)
Petra Kuppinger , Monmouth College
Art, creativity, and religion are frequently, but largely separately, discussed in diverse political, cultural, and public contexts. Less is said about their concrete interaction in contemporary cityscapes; and even less attention is given to the intersection of art, creativity, and Islam in European cities. While contemporary cities pride themselves about being havens of cutting edge arts and creativity, religiously inspired art and cultural creativity are not part of what is perceived as worthwhile innovation in dominant political and cultural discourses. Silence prevails about pious Muslims' contributions to the creative transformation and long-term remaking of European urban landscapes and cultures. 

            Introducing examples of vernacular or lived cultural and aesthetic innovations produced by pious Muslims and their communities, this paper examines the role and transformative potentials of pious Muslim urban arts, aesthetics, and cultural and social creativity in Stuttgart, Germany. Based on ethnographic research, I explore exemplary contexts of Muslim cultural creativity where individuals and communities have inserted new cultural forms, spaces, and events into the cityscape. I examine innovations and contributions which over time have visibly and sustainably remade concrete urban spaces and cultural contexts (e.g. the work of a young Muslim photographer, the role of aesthetic/sartorial choices by pious Muslim women, or the creative transformative work and potential of a small mosque community in an urban neighborhood). I argue that pious Muslims' manifold creative artistic and cultural contributions have become vibrant, integral, and sustainable elements of the cultural composition of large German (and European) cities.