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Religious Super-Diversity in Cape Town. Dynamics of Leadership and Territorialization Through Religious Spaces in the Migration Process.

Project description

A closer look at Cape Town’s religious super-diversity

The city of Cape Town in South Africa is diverse in terms of religious places of worship – different Christian denomination churches, mosques, synagogues and Hindu temples – due to new and old migration. The idea of ‘religious super-diversity’ focuses on the visibility in cities of cultures with more diversities and multiple identities (racial, ethnic, legal status, age and gender) and the generation of conflicts and exchanges of knowledge between cultures. In this context, the EU-funded RELCAPETOWN project will study three areas where there is a large community of old and new migrants. It will explore how religious communities interact with the surrounding spatial, social, institutional and religious environments, stimulating new civic, religious and social processes involving diversity and religious pluralism.


This project explores the interaction between religions and migration in specific areas of Cape Town, South Africa, from the perspective of the “religious super-diversity” notion, which considers not merely the diversity of cultures brought by migration, rather their visibility in cities with more diversities and multiple identities, involving race, ethnicity, legal status, age, and gender, but also generating conflicts and exchanges of knowledge among cultures. Added to the “religious super-diversity” is the spatial relationship between religious communities and their places of worship and the urban environment. This project will focus on the strategy of the “religious super-diversity’s place building”, according to which each religious community interacts with territory, social context, institutions, and other religious communities, promoting new processes in which diversity and religious pluralism involve a civic dimension, the religious agency of migrant groups and social cohesion. The areas of Cape Town known as Subcouncils 15, 16 and 20 have been selected for the impressive presence of old and recent migrants’ religious places (different Christian churches, Synagogues, Mosques, Hindu Temples, etc.). Although official statistics reveal low percentages of regular foreign immigrants (1%), the numerous “national” religious places in Cape Town and the kind of responses they offer to migrants suggest a different picture. This project suggests the super-diversity perspective provides a ground-breaking focus on religious cohabitation in Cape Town that is still lacking. Dynamics of leadership and territorialisation will be investigated through an analysis of the religious sites, whose role in the environment will provide new indicators about religious conflicts and social benefits. To this end, a fieldwork will be achieved on the basis of an updated methodology based on ethnographic inquiry, empirical and comparative study of religious actors and movements.


Net EU contribution
€ 212 433,60
Piazzale aldo moro 5
00185 Roma

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Centro (IT) Lazio Roma
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Partners (1)