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Iconic Religion

Iconic Religion is a joint research project of the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) at the Ruhr University Bochum (Germany), the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University (UK) and Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Utrecht University (NL).

Iconic Religion as Plureligion Network's Offspring

The idea for the project was born in a conference of the Plureligion Network on which researchers of all three universities participated. The researchers of the interdisciplinary research group were integral part of the network since its launch. Given this, Iconic Religion can be seen as the network's genuine offsping. 

Public icons of religious plurality analysed

Iconic Religion focuses on religious icons and icons of religious encounter in the European metropoles of Amsterdam, Berlin and London. Whenever religious icons, such as sacred buildings and sites, clothing, and public events, are associated with religious traditions that beholders are unfamiliar with, they comprise or generate imaginaries about how different religions should co-exist. The main question of the project is:

  • How do imaginaries of religious encounters – visually expressed in pictures, sculptures, symbols, graffities, performances etc. –  structure urban space and vice versa?

In order to consider the complex nature of icons and to analyse how the religious dimension may become dominant over other dimensions of meaning, Iconic Religion combines spatial, material-aesthetic, visual analysis, and communicative-semiotic approaches with discourse analysis and reception studies.

Photo exhibitions of public religious icons

The project expects research results regarding the mechanisms of how religious images in the urban space construct either stereotypes or concepts of successful cultural encounter.

As measures to maximise knowledge exchange and transfer, a website for a broader audience and a photo exhibition will be prepared. With about 100 photos and texts from interviews illustrating religious encounters, the exhibition will be shown in Bochum, Berlin, Amster­dam, and London. It will be complemented by a catalogue with additional information on religious diversity in Europe.

Learn more about the project on its website.


Iconic Religion


Prof. Volkhard Krech &

         PD Dr. Susanne Lanwerd

CERES, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany

Prof. Birgit Meyer

Departement Filosofie en Religiewetenschap, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands


Prof. Kim Knott

Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University, UK

Iconic Religion is funded by:

This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 291827.

The project Iconic Religion is financially supported by the HERA Joint Research Programme