Making Suburban Faith: design, material culture and popular creativity


Principal Investigator: Dr. Claire Dwyer, Prof. David Gilbert
Co-investigators: Dr. Nazneen Ahmed

This project explores the ways in which suburban faith communities create space focusing on architectures, material cultures, rituals, music and performance. The project is based in Ealing in West London and focuses on eight different faith community case studies selected to represent different faith and migration traditions. These cases studies also represent different aesthetic and material cultures in their faith traditions and practices and in their buildings and community spaces. The project involves four main research strands: survey and ethnographic work in all eight case study sites; ethnographic work with community members to explore home-based faith cultures and practices; ethnographic work on religious music and performance; three artistic projects which involve members from across the different faith communities.

The project has four main aims:

1) To investigate how the aesthetics of faith, and particularly migrant faiths, are materialised and negotiated.

2) To analyse the material cultures, practices and performances of faith in suburbia and to map these through community, public and domestic spaces.

3) To analyse how suburban faith communities engage creatively and meaningfully with their suburban locations and to seek to enhance these capacities.

4) To explore how design and creative practice might be used to create new forms of community belonging for suburban faith communities.