Sub-Project 2: Religion going public – Immigration, Sacred Architecture and Public Domain

Prof. Dr. Martin Baumann

This sub-project focuses on the interrelation between religion, public domain and the modern state. Research is done on the basis of analyses of social controversies about new representative sacred architecture, constructed by religious minorities. The resistance against building projects, such as minarets, mosques, “strange” looking churches or other religious architecture demonstrates the power of mobilisation of the majority society in order to preserve established conditions and the status quo. Public domain turns out to be a normative and defended terrain, which becomes obvious only in processes of new additions to and claims for participation in the public space.

The main thesis of this sub-project argues that for the mostly immigrated religious minorities publicly visible sacred architecture does not only fulfil the important functions of creating identities, representation and standardisation. Moreover, with respect to immigrants and groups of immigrants, immigrant religions as public religion play an important role in mediating and integration efforts. These religions have consciously left their hitherto confined locations and – because of their visibility in public – may develop into public religions and active participants in society at large (Casanova).

The aim of this sub-project is to research, whether migrant religions as public religions will foster social incorporation and adaptation in a more productive way than private religions in publicly unnoticed sacred locations (“backyard-mosques”, “cellar-temples”). The sub-project builds on the Lucerne project “Cupola – Temple – Minaret. Religious Architecture of Immigrant Religions in Switzerland” ( It aims to deepen the analytical and theoretical perspective.