Power, Piety, and People

The Politics of Holy Cities in the Twenty-First Century

Michael Dumper

Columbia University Press

Power, Piety, and People

Pub Date: July 2020

ISBN: 9780231184779

384 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $35.00£27.00

Pub Date: July 2020

ISBN: 9780231184762

384 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $140.00£115.00

Pub Date: July 2020

ISBN: 9780231545662

384 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£30.00

Power, Piety, and People

The Politics of Holy Cities in the Twenty-First Century

Michael Dumper

Columbia University Press

Conflicts in cities that have particular religious significance often become intense, protracted, and violent. Why are holy cities so frequently contested, and how can these conflicts be mediated and resolved?

In Power, Piety, and the People, Michael Dumper explores the causes and consequences of contemporary conflicts in holy cities. He explains how common features of holy cities, such as powerful and autonomous religious hierarchies, income from religious endowments, the presence of sacred sites, and the performance of ritual activities that affect other communities, can combine to create tension.

Power, Piety, and the People offers five case studies of important disputes, beginning with Jerusalem, often seen as the paradigmatic example of a holy city in conflict. Dumper also discusses Córdoba, where the Islamic history of its Mosque-Cathedral poses challenges to the control exercised by the Roman Catholic Church; Banaras, where competing Muslim and Hindu claims to sacred sites threaten the fragile equilibrium that exists in the city; Lhasa, where the Communist Party of China severely restricts the ancient practice of Tibetan Buddhism; and George Town in Malaysia, a rare example of a city with many different religious communities whose leaders have successfully managed intergroup conflicts. Applying the lessons drawn from these cities to a broader global urban landscape, this book offers scholars and policy makers new insights into a pervasive category of conflict that often appears intractable.
Highly original and fascinating empirical research combined with theoretical depth positions this book on high ground. Dumper adroitly and expertly examines the nexus between religion and urbanity in five holy cities in Israel/Palestine, Spain, India, China, and Malaysia. The book foregrounds the intersection of structural determinants and street-level phenomena as key to understanding whether dominance or tolerance takes hold in urban space. Scott Bollens, University of California, Irvine

About the Author

Michael Dumper is professor of Middle East politics at the University of Exeter. His many books include Jerusalem Unbound: Geography, History, and the Future of the Holy City (Columbia, 2014). His most recent edited volume is Contested Holy Cities: The Urban Dimension of Religious Conflicts (2019).