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Dossiers
Authors
  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan
  • Babak Afrassiabi
    • Babak Afrassiabi is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, he has collaborated with Nasrin Tabatabai on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
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  • S. Ayesha Hameed
    • Dr. S. Ayesha Hameed is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures and the Joint Programme Leader in Fine Art and History of Art Research Fellow in Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, London. She received her PhD in Social and Political Thought at York University, Canada in 2008
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      published contributions
  • Sammy Baloji
  • On Barak
    • On Barak is a social and cultural historian of science and technology in non-Western settings. He has been a senior lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University since 2012. Prior to this, he was a member of the Princeton Society of Fellows. In 2009, Barak received a joint PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University. His most recent book is On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (University of California Press, 2013), and his current publication project, Coalonialism: Energy and Empire before the Age of Oil, is funded by a European Union Marie Curie Award and an Israel Science Foundation Grant.
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  • Anil Bawa-Cavia
    • Anil Bawa-Cavia is a computer scientist with a background in machine learning. He runs STDIO, a speculative software studio. His practice engages with algorithms, protocols, encodings, and other software artifacts and his doctoral research at the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London was on complex networks in urbanism. He is a founding member of Call & Response, a sonic arts collective and gallery space in London, and a member of the New Centre for Research & Practice.
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  • Etienne Benson
  • Josh Berson
  • Jeremy Bolen
  • Axel Braun
    • Axel Braun studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, and fine arts at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. His artistic research deals with controversial infrastructure projects, tautology as an attempt to understand reality, and failed utopias in art and architecture. Currently, he is pursuing the long-term project Towards an Understanding of Anthropocene Landscapes. Recently exhibited works include Some Kind of Opposition (2016) at Galeria Centralis, Budapest, and Dragonflies drift downstream on a river (2015) at Kunstmuseum Bochum.
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      published contributions
  • Keith Breckenridge
  • François Bucher
    • s, focusing on ethical and aesthetic problems of cinema and television, and more recently on the image as an interdimensional field. His work has been exhibited at
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      published contributions
  • Lino Camprubí
  • Zachary Caple
  • Ele Carpenter
    • Dr. Ele Carpenter is a senior lecturer in curating at Goldsmiths, London. Her curatorial practice responds to interdisciplinary socio-political contexts such as the nuclear economy and the relationship between craft and code.
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      published contributions
  • Andrew Chubb
    • Andrew Chubb is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia conducting research on the relationship between Chinese public opinion and government policy in the South China Sea. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Contemporary China, Pacific Affairs, East Asia Forum, and Information, Communication & Society. His blog, South Sea Conversations (southseaconversations.wordpress.com), provides translations and analysis of Chinese discourse on the South and East China Sea issues.
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      published contributions
  • Louis Chude-Sokei
    • Louis Chude-Sokei is a writer and scholar currently teaching in the English Department at the University of Washington, Seattle. His academic interests range from West African, Caribbean, and American literary and cultural studies to a particular focus on sound, technology, and performance. His literary and public work focuses on immigration and black-on-black cultural contacts, conflicts, and exchanges. Chude-Sokei is the author of the award-winning book The Last “Darky”: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora (2006) and The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (2016).
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      published contributions
  • Claire Colebrook
    • Claire Colebrook is a professor of English at Penn State University. Her areas of specialization are contemporary literature, visual culture, and theory and cultural studies. She has written articles on poetry, literary theory, queer theory, and contemporary culture. Colebrook is the co-editor of the series Critical Climate Change, published by Open Humanities Press, and a member of the advisory board of the Institute for Critical Climate Change. She recently completed two books on extinction for Open Humanities Press, Death of the PostHuman and Sex after Life (both 2014), and with Tom Cohen and J. Hillis Miller co-authored Twilight of the Anthropocene Idols (2016).
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      published contributions
  • Rana Dasgupta
  • Filip De Boeck
    • Filip De Boeck is actively involved in teaching, promoting, coordinating and supervising research in and on Africa at the Institute for Anthropological research in Africa at the U
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      published contributions
  • Seth Denizen
    • Seth Denizen is a researcher and design practitioner trained in landscape architecture and evolutionary biology. Since completing research on the sexual behavior and evolutionary ecology of small Trinidadian fish, his work has focused on the aesthetics of scientific representation, madness, and public parks, the design of t
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      published contributions
  • Jonathan Donges
    • Jonathan Donges is a postdoctoral researcher who holds a joint position at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (as Stordalen Scholar) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He studies planetary boundaries and social dynamics in the Earth system from a complex dynamical system perspective. At Potsdam, he is Co-head of the flagship COPAN (Coevolutionary Pathways) project (www.pik-potsdam.de/copan). His published research includes work on complex network theory, dynamical systems theory, and time series analysis, with a focus on their application to our understanding of past and present climate variability and its interactions with humankind on planet Earth.
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      published contributions
  • Keller Easterling
  • David Edgerton
    • David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and a professor of modern British history at King’s College London. After teaching at the University of Manchester, he became the founding director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College London (1993–2003), and moved along with the centre to King’s College London in August 2013. He is the author of many works, including The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 (2007), which argues for and exemplifies new ways of thinking about the material constitution of modernity.
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      published contributions
  • Technosphere Editorial
  • Sasha Engelmann
  • Eberhard Faust
  • Jennifer Gabrys
    • Jennifer Gabrys is Reader in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Principal Investigator on the ERC-funded project, "Citizen Sense." Her publications include Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (University of Michigan Press, 2011); and Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming).
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      published contributions
  • Oliver Gantner
  • Florian Goldmann
    • Florian Goldmann is a Berlin-based artist and a PhD candidate at the DFG Research Training Center Visibility and Visualisation – Hybrid Forms of Pictorial Knowledge as well as at the Brandenburg Center for Media Studies, both Potsdam University. His research focus is the utilization of models as a means of both commemorating and predicting catastrophe. In 2015, he took part in the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan. Goldmann is one of the founders of the research collective STRATAGRIDS and the author of Flexible Signposts to Coded Territories (2012), an analysis of football hooligan graffiti in Athens as a system of fluid signage.
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  • Johan Gärdebo
    • Johan Gärdebo is a PhD candidate at the Royal Institute of Technology affiliated to the Environmental Humanities Laboratory (EHL). H
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      published contributions
  • Orit Halpern
    • Orit Halpern is a Strategic Hire in Interactive Design and an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design and art practice. She is also a co-director of the Speculative Life Research Cluster, Montreal, a laboratory situated at the intersection of art and life sciences, architecture and design, and computational media (www.speculativelife.com). Her recent monograph, Beautiful Data (2015), is a history of interactivity, data visualization, and ubiquitous computing. www.orithalpern.net
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      published contributions
  • Carola Hein
    • Carola Hein is a professor of the history of architecture and urban planning in the Architecture Department at Delft University of Technology. She has published widely on topics in contemporary and historical architectural and urban planning, notably that of Europe and Japan. Her current research interests include transmission of architectural and urban ideas along international networks, focusing specifically on port cities, and the global architecture of oil. Her books include Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (2011), Cities, Autonomy, and Decentralization in Japan (2006), and The Capital of Europe: Architecture and Urban Planning for the European Union (2004).
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  • Julian Henriques
    • Julian Henriques is the convener of the MA in Script Writing and Director of the Topology Research Unit in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. Prior to this, he ran the film and television department at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. His credits as a writer and director include the reggae musical feature film Babymother (1998) and as a sound artist, Knots & Donuts, exhibited at Tate Modern in 2011. Henriques researches street cultures and technologies and his publications include Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation, and Subjectivity (1998), Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques, and Ways of Knowing (2011), and Sonic Media (forthcoming).
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      published contributions
  • Hanna Husberg
    • Hanna Husberg is a Stockholm-based artist. She graduated from ENSB-A in Paris in 2007 and is currently a PhD in Practice candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.
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      published contributions
  • Erich Hörl
  • Timothy Johnson
  • Peter K. Haff
  • Laleh Khalili
  • Alexander Klose
    • Dr. Alexander Klose studied History, Law, Philosophy, Art, and Cultural Studies. From 2005-07 he held a scholarship at Bauhaus Universität Weimar for his PhD project on standardized containers used in transport as one of the leading material media in the 20th century. Between 2009 and 2014 he worked as a research associate and programme developer at Kulturstiftung des Bundes. In 2015 in the forefront of COP 21, he co-curated Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge No. 18 – On Becoming Earthlings: 150 dialogues and exercises in shrinking and expanding the Human at Musée de l'Homme, Paris. His latest publication is: The Container Principle. How a box changes the way we think (2015).
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      published contributions
  • Karin Knorr Cetina
  • Scott Knowles
  • Nile Koetting
  • Nicole Koltick
    • Nicole Koltick is an assistant professor in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She is Founding Director of the Design Futures Lab at Westphal College, which is currently pursuing design research to stimulate debate on the potential implications of emerging technological and scientific developments within society. Koltick’s practice spans art, science, technology, design, and philosophy, and current work focuses on the philosophical, material, and relational implications of aesthetics as they intersect with emerging developments in computational creativity, artificially intelligent autonomous systems, robotics, and synthetic biological hybrids.
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      published contributions
  • Nik Kosmas
  • Matthijs Kouw
    • Matthijs Kouw joined the Rathenau Instituut, The Hague, in March 2016. He holds an MA in Philosophy and an MSc in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Amsterdam as well as a PhD from Maastricht University. In his PhD thesis, Kouw describes how and to what extent reliance on models can introduce vulnerabilities through the assumptions, uncertainties, and blind spots concomitant with modeling practice. He was employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), during which time he acted as a member of the Dutch delegation for plenary sessions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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      published contributions
  • Lars Kulik
    • Lars Kulik studied biology at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He received his doctorate on the development of social behavior of rhesus monkeys at the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He lives with his family in Berlin.
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      published contributions
  • Richard L. Hindle
    • Richard L. Hindle is an assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley. His current research focuses on patent innovation in landscape related technologies, from large-scale mappings of riverine and coastal systems to detailed historical studies on the antecedents of vegetated architecture. His work explores the potential of new technological narratives and material processes to reframe theory, practice, and the production of landscape. Recent works include the articles “Levees That Might Have Been” (2015), and “Infrastructures of Innovation” in Scaling Infrastructure (MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism, 2016), and the exhibition Geographies of Innovation at UC Berkeley (2015).
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      published contributions
  • Brian Larkin
  • John Law
    • hn Law was a professor of sociology at Keele University, Lancaster, and the Open University, Milton Keynes, and a co-director of the Economic and Social Researc
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      published contributions
  • S. Løchlann Jain
  • Donald MacKenzie
  • Laura McLean
    • Laura McLean is a curator, artist, and writer based in London. She is a graduate of Goldsmiths College and Sydney College of the Arts, where she later lectured. She has also studied at Alberta College of Art and Design, and the Universität der Künste Berlin.
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      published contributions
  • Eden Medina
    • Eden Medina is an associate professor of informatics and computing, affiliated associate professor of law, and adjunct associate professor of history at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research and teaching address the social, historical, and legal dimensions of our increasingly data-driven world, including the relationship of technology to human rights and free expression, the relationship between political innovation and technological innovation, and the ways that human and political values shape technological design. Medina’s writings also use science and technology as a way to broaden understandings of Latin American history and the geography of innovation. She is the author of Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile (2011) and the co-editor of Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America (2014).
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      published contributions
  • Anne-Sophie Milon
    • Anne-Sophie Milon is an artist and a freelance illustrator and animator working and living in Bristol, UK. After completing two Masters in Art, she has recently concluded the program of experimentation in Art and Politics at SciencesPo (SPEAP) in Paris.
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      published contributions
  • Gerald Nestler
    • Gerald Nestler is an artist and writer who combines theory and post-disciplinary conversation with video, installation, performance, text, code, graphics, sound, and speech. He explores what he calls the derivative condition of contemporary social relations and its paradigmatic financial models, operations, processes, narratives, and fictions. He is currently working on an “aesthetics of resolution” that maps counterfictions and counterimaginations for “renegade activism,” which revolves around the demonstration as a combined artistic, technological, social, and political practice. Nestler holds a practice-based PhD from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.
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      published contributions
  • James P. M. Syvitski
    • James P. M. Syvitski is Executive Director of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS) at the University of Colorado Boulder. From 2011 to 2016, he chaired the International Council for Science’s International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), which provides essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society toward a sustainable pathway during rapid global change. His specialty is the global flux of water and sediment (river and ocean borne) and its trends in the Anthropocene. He works at the forefront of computational geosciences, including sediment transport, land-ocean interactions, and Earth-surface dynamics.
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      published contributions
  • Luciana Parisi
    • Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Theory, Chair of the PhD program in Cultural Studies, and Co-director of the Digital Culture Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research focuses on cybernetics, information theory and computation, complexity and evolutionary theories, and the technocapitalist investment in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Her books include Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (2004) and Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (2013). She is currently researching the history of automation and the philosophical consequences of logical thinking in machines.
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      published contributions
  • Lisa Parks
  • Matteo Pasquinelli
  • Arno Rosemarin
  • Dorion Sagan
  • Birgit Schneider
  • Lizzie Stark
    • Lizzie Stark is an author, journalist, and experience designer. She is the author of two books, Pandora’s DNA (2014), exploring so-called ‘breast cancer genes’ and her first book, Leaving Mundania (2012), which investigates the subculture of live action role play, or larp. Her journalism and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, the Daily Beast, The Today Show Website, io9, Fusion, the Philadelphia Inquirer and elsewhere. She holds an MS from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has organized numerous conventions and experiences across the US. Her most recent work is as a programming coordinator for Living Games Austin, and as co-editor and contributor for the #Feminism anthology, which collects 34 nano-games written by feminists from eleven countries.
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  • Lucy Suchman
    • ology of Science and Technology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Lancaster, UK. Her research interests within the field of feminist science and technology studies are focused on technological imaginaries and material practices
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      published contributions
  • Jenna Sutela
    • Jenna Sutela’s installations, texts, and sound performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Most recently, she has been exploring exceedingly complex biological and computational systems, ultimately unknowable and always becoming something new. Her work has been presented, among other places, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and her writing has been published by Fiktion, Harvard Design Magazine, and Sternberg Press.
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      published contributions
  • Bronislaw Szerszynski
    • Bronislaw Szerszynski is a Reader in Sociology at Lancaster University in the UK. Szerszynski’s work has developed across several themes, including the role of Western religious history in shaping contemporary understandings of technology and the environment—typified by his book Nature, Technology and the Sacred (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005).
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      published contributions
  • Elisa T. Bertuzzo
    • Elisa T. Bertuzzo studied comparative literature, sociology, communication, and media studies and holds a PhD in urban studies. She was a curator and project leader with Habitat Forum Berlin, including for the project Paradigmising Karail Basti (2010–16). Bridging discourses from the fields of cultural and urban studies, her research focuses on the everyday life facets of urbanization and settlement in South Asia. On that topic, she published Fragmented Dhaka: Analysing Everyday Life with Henri Lefebvre’s Theory of Production of Space (2009) and runs her multimedia project Archives of Movement (since 2012), which deals with the everyday life of temporary labor migrants in Bangladesh and India.
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      published contributions
  • Gregory T. Cushman
    • Gregory T. Cushman is Associate Professor of International Environmental History at the University of Kansas.
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      published contributions
  • Nasrin Tabatabai
    • Nasrin Tabatabai is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, she has collaborated with Babak Afrassiabi on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
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      published contributions
  • Katerina Teaiwa
    • Dr. Katerina Teaiwa is Associate Professor at the Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History & Language and the president of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies. Her main area of research looks at the histories of phosphate mining in the central Pacific. Her work does not only span academic research, publications, and lectures, but also manifests itself in other formats within the arts and popular culture. Her work has inspired a permanent exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which tells the story of Pacific phosphate mining through Banaban dance. In 2015, she published „Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba“, Indiana University Press. She is currently working with visual artist Yuki Kihara on a multimedia exhibition for Carriageworks in Sydney.
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      published contributions
  • Jol Thomson
  • Claire Tolan
  • John Tresch
  • Etienne Turpin
    • Etienne Turpin is a philosopher, Founding Director of anexact office, and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, where he coordinates the Humanitarian Infrastructures Group and co-directs the PetaBencana.id disaster mapping project for the Urban Risk Lab. He is the editor of Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Tim
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  • Asonseh Ukah
    • Asonzeh Ukah is a sociologist and historian of religion. He joined the University of Cape Town in 2013 and previously taught at the University of Bayreuth (2005–13), where he also earned a doctorate and habilitation in history of religions. His research interests include religious urbanism, the sociology of Pentecostalism, and religion and media. He is Director of the Research Institute on Christianity and Society in Africa (RICSA), University of Cape Town, and Affiliated Senior Fellow of Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth. He is the author of A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power (2008) and Bourdieu in Africa (edited with Magnus Echtler, 2016).
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  • Underworlds
  • Sebastian Vehlken
    • Sebastian Vehlken is a media theorist and cultural historian at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Permanent Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS). From 2013 to 2017, he worked as MECS Junior Director, and in 2015–16, he was a visiting professor at Humboldt-Universität Berlin, the University of Vienna, and Leuphana. His areas of interest include the theory and history of computer simulation and digital media, the media history of swarm intelligence, and the epistemology of think tanks. His current research project, Plutonium Worlds, explores the application of computer simulations in West German fast breeder reactor programs.
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      published contributions
  • Vladimir Vernadsky
  • Davor Vidas
    • Davor Vidas is a research professor in international law and Director of the Law of the Sea Programme at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Lysaker, Norway. He is Chair of the Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise and a member of the Anthropocene Working Group. Vidas has been involved in international law research for over thirty years, focusing since 2009 on implications of the Anthropocene for the development of international law. Among his books are The World Ocean in Globalisation (2011) and Law, Technology and Science for Oceans in Globalisation (2010). He is the editor-in-chief of the book series Anthropocene (Skolska knjiga, Zagreb), launched in 2017.
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      published contributions
  • Hannes Wiedemann
    • Hannes Wiedemann is a Berlin-based photographer. He studied at the Ostkreuz School of Photography, Berlin. For his project Grinders (2015–16), he followed the American bodyhacking community, a small group of people across the United States working out of garages and basements to become real cyborgs. Recent exhibitions include NEW PHOTOGRAPHY II (2017) at Gallery ALAN, Istanbul, and HUMAN UPGRADE, with Susanna Hertrich (2016), at Schader-Stiftung Gallery, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt. www.hanneswiedemann.com
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  • Cary Wolfe
    • Cary Wolfe is Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English and Founding Director of 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory at Rice University, Houston. He is the author of What Is Posthumanism? (2010), a book that weaves together principal concerns of his work: animal studies, system theory, pragmatism, and post-structuralism. It is part of the series Posthumanities, for which he serves as Founding Editor at the University of Minnesota Press. His most recent publication is Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in Biopolitical Frame (2013) and earlier books and edited collections include Animal Rites: American Culture, The Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (2003) and Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal (2003).
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      published contributions
  • Andrew Yang
  • Jan Zalasiewicz
    • Dr. Jan Zalasiewicz is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester and Chair of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. A field geologist, paleontologist, and stratigrapher, he teaches and publishes on geology and earth history, in particular on fossil ecosystems and environments that span over half a billion years of geological time.
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      published contributions
  • Anna Zett
  • Liv Østmo
    • Liv Østmo is one of the founders and current Dean of the Sámi University of Applied Sciences, Kautokeino, Norway, where she researches and lectures on the subject of multicultural understanding. For the last eight years, Østmo has worked with traditional Sámi knowledge and she is currently working on putting the finishing touches on a methodology book about the documentation of this knowledge.
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Stephan Lanz 2010

Redeeming Urban Spaces: The Ambivalence of Building a Pentecostal City in Lagos, Nigeria

Using ethnographic material from the largest prayer camp in Nigeria, sociologist and historian of religion Asonzeh Ukah describes the interdependence between religious faith in redemption, prosperity theology, and the (sub)urban infrastructure managed by the camp.
Lagos, the Mother City
In order to place in context the emergence, development, and character of the Redemption Camp of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), located on the outskirts of Lagos, it is important to understand Lagos itself. Originally called Eko, the Portuguese first visited the city in 1472 and renamed it Lago de Curama. Lagos is a city of 3,577 square kilometers, of which, 787 are covered by lakes, creeks, and lagoons. Lagos is home to twenty municipal governments and more than eight different tertiary institutions. Of the eight major seaports in Nigeria, three are located in Lagos, making the city the economic hub of Nigeria.These are the ports of Apapa, Tin Can Island, and RoRo. In addition, there are two lighter terminals in Lagos: the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal and the Federal Lighter Terminal.
Eighty percent of all Nigeria’s imports and exports take place through Lagos. The city was the seat of federal power from 1914 to 1991, when the capital of Nigeria switched to Abuja. If Lagos’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean has shaped its economic and cosmopolitan character, its political character has been built over the last seventy-seven years by its dual status as a distinct political entity (state) and federal capital. Because of Lagos’s strategic location and the concentration of wealth there, it was the site of low-level conflict between the federal government and the state government. The long-running war of attrition resulted in its almost complete neglect and decay.

Before 2007—when a new and visionary state government started its urban renewal programs—Lagos was the city of marginal government presence and extremes: a high concentration of individual wealth but also unimaginable squalor; abysmal public infrastructure but a plethora of private luxury cars; spectacular gated suburbs but littered with slums, noise, dirt, and dust; an unusual concentration of churches and mosques but the cesspool of corruption and low-level disorder.

Much like everything else in Lagos, the size of the population is a contested statistic between the federal and the state governments. It is generally accepted however, that the population is somewhere between 18 to 20 million inhabitants, making it the most populated city in sub-Saharan Africa, and putting it on the same pedestal with Mumbai, India. Of the twenty-seven major cities in Nigeria, Lagos is the most populated; with a human density of 8,000 persons per square kilometer, it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. By 2015, Lagos will be home to about 23 million inhabitants, according to a United Nations projection.
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Located forty-two kilometers outside Lagos, the history of the RCCG camp begins in this city. Metaphorically—or rather strategically—named “The Redemption Camp,” it is arguably the largest physical environment dedicated to the production, circulation, and consumption of religion in Africa. The camp is a primary ritual facility that draws several million worshippers each year; it houses a university, several dormitories and guesthouses, a massive auditorium, measuring nearly one kilometer by 750 meters at its widest, five banks and other financial institutions, and state-of-the-art real estates. Originally conceived and designed from Lagos to redeem Lagos and be everything that Lagos is not, the camp is a daughter city to the mother city of Lagos. Since its establishment in 1983, the paradox or unanswered question has remained, how does an apocalyptic city such as Lagos—between 1983 (when the camp was established) and 2007 (when the present administration of the Governor of Lagos, Babatunde Fashola, initiated a massive and ambitious urban renewal process)—produce a Redemption City such as the RCCG camp? Something that many scholars and commentators have ignored is that the camp is a product of the madness, corruption, and fury of Lagos; just as a child must carry its parents’ DNA, so also the RCCG prayer camp carries its “parents’.”
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Cities and urban spaces are the focus of numerous recent studies; they attract increasing attention in the contemporary period, not simply because they constitute unique experiences in modernity and its many manifestations, but also because they are concentrations of ever-growing human populations and economic resources.Xiangming Chen et al., Introduction to Cities: How Place and Space Shape Human Experience. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, pp. 6f.
They are loci of power in all its manifestations. The African city has also received scholarly attention in an attempt to understand its role in the processes of globalization and post-colonial modernity. Frequently, however, the African city has been characterized in the scholarly and popular literature as a site of “unregulated growth, limited opportunities for gainful employment in the formal economy, severe environmental degradation, lack of decent and affordable housing, failing and negligent city-management, and increasing inequalities.Garth A. Myers and Martin J. Murray, “Introduction: Situating Contemporary Cities in Africa,” in: Martin J. Murray and Garth A. Myers (eds), Cities in contemporary Africa. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, p. 1.
In African Cities: Alternative Visions of Urban Theory and Practices (2011), Myers calls for a different way of explaining the root causes of what some claim is an urban crisis in Africa. The call to de-Westernize urban theory, particularly in relation to Africa, is crucial to the way in which African cities will be characterized in the future; different characterizations need to be based on the lived experiences of city-dwellers themselves rather than on the (often vague) practical knowledge of urban theorists. It is in this sense, that the postulation of a “fundamentalist city” by Nezar AlSayyad and Mejgan Massoumi is relevant to the study of the role of religion in reconfiguring African urban spaces in contemporary times.Nezar AlSayyad and Mejgan Massoumi (eds), The Fundamental City? Religiosity in the Remaking of Urban Space. London: Routledge, 2001; and Nezar AlSayyad and Mejgan Massoumi, “Religious Fundamentalism in the City: Reflections on the Arab Spring,” Journal of International Affairs, vol. 65, no. 2 (2012), pp. 31‒42.
The “fundamentalist city” paradigm postulates that, “religious movements transform into fundamentalist ones, employing tactics of control that reshape the life and form of cities.AlSayyad and Massoumi, “Religious Fundamentalism in the City,” p. 32.
From the initial intervention of the British in the affairs of Lagos, religion has consistently produced a series of spatial shockwaves that influenced and are still influencing the process of urban restructuring. The conquest of Lagos in 1852 was partly instigated by British Christian missionaries on the pretext of introducing “civilization” and legitimate trade. But the contemporary growth of Pentecostalism in Lagos is re-establishing new religious communities, redefining boundaries, and reinvigorating spiritual alliances and religious practices within the city. Pentecostalism is spurning new urban practices of visuality and space making in Lagos.Asonzeh F.-K. Ukah, “Roadside Pentecostalism: Religious Advertising in Nigeria and the Marketing of Charisma,” Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture, no. 2 (Spring 2008), pp. 125‒41; and Asonzeh F.-K. Ukah, “Branding God: Advertising and the Pentecostal Industry in Nigeria,” Liwuram: Journal of the Humanities, vol. 13 (2006), pp. 83‒106.
Around Lagos and its environs, the intensification of new Pentecostal practices, economic networks and allegiances, are breeding new forms of exclusionary, parochial, and spatial practices, which are nowhere more evident than in Pentecostal camps and the emergent cities spurning from them.

The City of God
Lagos as “Sin City,” characterized by congestion and lack of elasticity, was unable to accommodate a rapidly expanding RCCG immediately after there was a leadership transition in 1981. The founder of the RCCG died in November 1980 and a new leader emerged in January 1981 after a fiercely fought leadership war that saw the church split into three major factions. The energy from a new, much younger, and better-educated leader than the leaders of the other religious factions manifested in the incorporation of fresh ideas into the restructuring of the ritual, doctrinal, and administrative style of the church. As an educated and cosmopolitan character, the new leader, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, infused part of his secular learning into the small organization of which he was now in charge. As there can hardly be such a thing as an “immaculate conception” of creative ideas, much of what the new leader did as part of the structural and spiritual reform of the church came from his interaction with the wider Pentecostal community, specifically in the United States and South Korea. For example, as the church had experienced a very slow if not stagnant growth since its founding in 1952, Adeboye turned to the house-cell system of David Yonggi Cho of Yoido Full Gospel Church, South Korea, in order to learn how to grow and proselytize from below. Similarly, the church was also very poor because the founder, Josiah Akindayomi, in fact, had shunned wealth and frowned at certain secular occupations, proselytizing from the poor of the poor. Adeboye, therefore, turned to the American churches, specifically to Kenneth E. Hagin Snr. (August 20, 1917–September 19, 2003), to learn how to improve and repackage the spiritual wares of the “tribal church” he had inherited. The result of Adeboye’s frequent trips to the United States and Asia, however, introduced a process of commoditization, an aggressive marketing of spiritual life, and an effective branding of RCCG and his leadership, as an era of miracles and wonders.
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It must be remembered that the mid-1980s was also the period when Nigeria started to introduce its neoliberal economic policies, urged by the IMF and the World Bank, which involved the commoditization of every aspect of life; social, economic, political, and religious.Nigeria adopted the IMF–World Bank Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) in 1986.
One of the new introductions inspired by Adeboye in the early 1980s was the Holy Ghost Service (HGS), a ritual event held on the first Friday of every month.When the first Friday of the month falls on the sixth or seventh day of any month, the event is held on the last Friday of the preceding month. The economic importance of the event, therefore, is that it is held on the Friday closest to when wages are paid to workers and the RCCG is ardent about collecting tithes from HGS attendees.
Adeboye informed his followers that he had received divine instruction to commence the event as a “birthday” gift from God for the spiritual welfare of members of the church: through the HGS God would perform miracles for Nigerians whose lifestyles had been ruptured by the aggressive deregulation, privatization, and commercialization programs of the state. However, the inspiration for this event could have sprung from a similar one of the same name held by Kenneth Hagin Snr. to which Adeboye was a regular attendee from 1979. The HGS was also to become a veritable medium of disseminating Adeboye’s newly adopted Prosperity “theology.” Part of the miracle that God was going to channel through the HGS was to redeem the Sin City that was Lagos!
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Obviously, Redemption City, as its owners and their followers call it, is not the first city started by a church; Mannheim in Germany has a similar history.Henderson J. Vernon and Randy A. Becker, “Political Economy of City Sizes and Formation,” Journal of Urban Economics, vol. 48, no. 3 (2000), pp. 453‒84, here p. 471.
In Yoruba cosmology, many cities and towns had divine purpose in their establishment, the most important of which is Ile-Ife, the “City of 201 Gods,” over whose soul different religious traditions are still competing.Jacob K. Olupona, City of 201 Gods: Ilé-Ifè in Time, Space, and the Imagination. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011.
In the mind of the Yoruba, the concentration of gods in a specific space makes the environment unique: it is the center of power, knowledge, wealth, and all that humankind desires. A sacred space, therefore, is a site of unusual human attachment since it is intentionally designed to reproduce divine workmanship to benefit humankind, and as a result, people invest in it collective emotions and signification.Shampa Mazumdar and Sanjoy Mazumdar, “Religion and Place Attachment: A Study of Sacred Places,” Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 24 (2004), p. 386.
Similarly, the creation of “Redemption City” is likened to a centrifugal source of unusual power. For forty years before 1983, the RCCG had held its National Convention—an annual gathering of church members to reflect on church life and new directions—on the premises of the Ebute-Meta church; and this is a period when church leaders and members interact and draw up a new church calendar. For the 1982 event, the Ebute-Meta church site had insufficient space to accommodate the surging numbers; expansion was impossible, as the church compound was bounded on two sides by the lagoon and on the third side by the old and ever-busy Ebute-Meta sawmill. The new leadership of Adeboye and the fresh programs he was introducing into the RCCG were beginning to alter the membership demographic; the new members were now younger, upwardly mobile, and economically ambitious. The church needed a modest property large enough to accommodate its bone-fide members during mass rituals such as the HGS and the annual National Convention. This was the primary reason why, in 1983, the church invested in the purchase of 14.25 acres of land for development as a temporary site of worship. At its inception, the camp served this purpose effectively, considering that it was a “members-only” ritual facility. The initial purchase of land and the construction of the first set of structures within the camp were by direct labor: members of the church pledged various sums of money and many of them were directly involved in the clearing and construction of the makeshift houses and the first auditorium. This brought about the sense of collective ownership, collective responsibility, and collective sentiment for the camp. More importantly, it produced a sense of collective pride and demonstrated material proof of the divine selection of Adeboye as the rightful leader of the church. This sense of achievement fueled a massive media advertising and propaganda campaign,The use of the word “propaganda” here is in accordance with the definition by Matthew G. Stanard: “Propaganda is the production and dissemination of information to help or hinder a particular institution, person, or cause, and the actual ideas concepts and materials produced in such an effort.” Selling the Congo: A History of European Pro-Empire Propaganda and the Making of Belgian Imperialism. London: University of Nebraska Press, 2011, p. 3.
in respect of marketing the camp as a sacred space where angels guard and patrol the perimeters, and where interaction between humans and the sacred are focused and intensified. The camp became home for the production and circulation of miracles, a central pillar of the RCCG’s identity, and monument to its figurehead: “the man behind the name,” Adeboye.
Toward the end of the 1990s, particularly during the transition to democratic governance, the church welcomed with open arms the emergent political class. It had already demonstrated it was able to attract large crowds of people to one place, a kind of captive audience for political propaganda. Now it became the “beautiful bride,” courted by gladiatorial political suitors of all hues. The RCCG was the primary platform for the political campaigns of Olusegun Obasanjo, a personal friend and ethnic compatriot of Adeboye, who was (s)elected President of Nigeria in May 1999. Campaigning from the pulpit, Adeboye urged his listeners and followers to vote for Obasanjo because “God has told him a general would rule Nigeria again.” Once Obasanjo became president, Adeboye became his unofficial chaplain, frequently visiting the seat of political power, Aso Rock, for prayers and consultations. The misguided euphoria and irrational exuberance with which the entire Pentecostal community welcomed the idea of a “Christian” president, whom Adeboye had prophesied into office, had a bandwagon effect on the nation. Slowly but steadily, Redemption City became, not a New Jerusalem where pilgrims went to pray and repent of their sins, but a political Mecca where integrity-challenged politicians bribed their way to the pulpit to address worshipper-voters. According to Matthews Ojo, in the 1990s and well into 2000, “it became politically expedient for some African leaders to proclaim their evangelical conversion and Pentecostal experience as political tools to garner support and seek legitimacy.Matthews A. Ojo, Of Saints and Sinners: Pentecostalism and the Paradox of Social Transformation in Modern Nigeria, Inaugural Lecturer series 227. Ile-Ife: Obafemi Awolowo University Press, 2010, p. 11.
Adeboye’s transformation to political prophet made him consultant to the country’s political gladiators, as he could peer into the political future of the country. At the camp, the politicians were the subjects of many prayers that would spiritually reinforce them for the combat ahead. In exchange, the politicians left behind “offerings,” that is, piles of cash and other material goods: politicians do not make donations that leave paper trails; they pay cash and call it a donation to God. If they do not donate cash, they give “gifts,” such as electricity-generating plants, vehicles, or earthmovers. The RCCG under Adeboye is a political-image laundry-structure where shady politicians and business people go, for a social and moral makeover, and/or to seek succor. By associating publicly with Adeboye, they can make claims of “righteous” and “moral” behavior and, therefore, resurface as people with values and principles. According to Matthews Ojo, the manner in which Nigerian Pentecostals have practiced their micro-political activities since 1999 “depicts how the saints could become sinners, and sinners become saints within the public sphere devoid of any standard of morality, but whose elected or anointed officials assume that they have some moral power left that could be exercised legislatively.Ojo, Of Saints and Sinners, p. 45.
The Redemption City is not only a sacred site for believers seeking spiritual encounters but, more importantly, a destination for political pilgrimage which offers shady politicians manufactured “political redemption and anointing”: the dispensation of divine indulgence for a fee (donation, offering, or tithe). What Ebenezer Obadare aptly calls a “Pentecostal presidency”:Ebenezer Obadare, “Pentecostal Presidency? The Lagos-Ibadan Theocratic Class and the Muslim ‘Other,’” Review of African Political Economy, vol. 33, no. 1 (2006), pp. 665–78.
that is, the failed and naïve attempt by the Pentecostal class to hijack the country’s presidency under the second Obasanjo term (1999–2007), which was hatched and nurtured at the Redemption Camp under the auspices of Adeboye and the entire RCCG leadership. The resources from the political class also contribute immensely to reshaping the direction and fortune of the RCCG and its camp. Without doubt, therefore, financial contributions from politicians and corporate entities have had an oversized influence on making the Redemption Camp what it is today, even when the church refuses to make public a detailed list of its sponsors and patrons.

Conclusion
The Redemption City is the most important physical landmark of contemporary Pentecostalism in Nigeria. Nigerian Pentecostalism has been fomented in the crucible of the city: and the city, according to the colonial model of modernity and development, is the repository of wealth and other forms of resources; it is where the Christian God is to be found, including His riches, which are material in nature. More than 95 percent of all Nigerian Pentecostal establishments are concentrated in the city. The RCCG under Adeboye has become a formidable purveyor of Prosperity “theology” and this prosperity is to be found in the city. The Pentecostal God loves the city beyond measure and hence it is the locus of social and economic redemption. The doctrinal, organizational, and behavioral character of Nigerian Pentecostalism is structured according to the rhythm of city life and practices. Because, according to the cosmology of Nigerian Pentecostalism, God dwells in the city with all its dysfunctions and disruptions. Even when the RCCG moved outside Lagos to build a camp, it could not get away from the model of the city from which it was running away. This is the case with the RCCG’s Redemption City. The camp, devised initially as a counter-city or an alternate to Lagos, is increasingly following the trajectory of the mother-city, Lagos—the plethora of religiously themed billboards littering it, and pious-sounding street names notwithstanding.
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In the 1990s, the RCCG publicly sought out the rich and powerful of society, handpicking candidates from university campuses and the corporate and professional worlds. In the absence of direct political activity during the military regimes, there was an influx of this caliber of people into the church. The hopes and aspirations of the frustrated middle class migrated from politics to religion, and the RCCG gradually morphed into an enterprise, a sort of public venture, which created diverse forms of social capital. Those who made large investments in the sacred bonds the church offered were promised divine rewards in exchange.David Martin, The Future of Christianity: Reflections on Violence and Democracy, Religion and Secularisation. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Company, pp. 78, 79; and Godwin Onuoha, “‘Exit’ and ‘Inclusion’: The Changing Paradigm of Pentecostal Expression in the Nigerian Public Sphere,” in Irene Becci et al. (eds), Topographies of Faith: Religion in Urban Spaces. Leiden and London: Brill, 2013, pp. 207–25.
These rewards are delivered here on earth in the form of material goods and the good life. Among those welcomed in large numbers into the RCCG were the kleptomaniacs, integrity-challenged, the electorally corrupt, and the corporate and political elites. Some of what they embezzled from the public and corporate entities they presided over, they in turn invested in the church in exchange for symbolic and social capital. These individuals and corporate entities largely funded the City of God of the RCCG. The Redemption City has grown and flourished in the most troubled period of Nigerian political and economic history. Its expansion, structure, and character were conditioned by the social, economic, and political experiences of the period. Nigerian “Pentecostal movements have come to play a central role in urban spaces, where they have displayed a resilient form of associational life in the face of the immense failure of the state.Onuoha, “‘Exit’ and ‘Inclusion,’” p. 223.
The culture of corruption, impunity, and fiscal recklessness, which is responsible for why things are the way they are in Nigeria, has also infiltrated the way that the Redemption City has evolved and been administered. The Redemption City is still expanding and its model has been reproduced elsewhere outside Nigeria. A civil regime that cannot distinguish its fingers from its toes presides over a vast army of the frustrated, marginalized, and unemployed. These citizens include those who exploit the chaos and all those who use religion as an anchor, as well as many other individuals and corporate entities. Under this regime the Redemption City will remain a hub for the exchange of sacred bonds “for a fee,” a place for the acquisition of social and symbolic capital.
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To what extent can the spatial and social practices of the Redemption Camp be likened to the hypothetical “fundamentalist city”? There is no straight answer. The Redemption City has adopted and adapted the nomenclature of public administration as well as the portfolios of public bureaucracies. For the church, the camp represents a space redeemed from wild animals and evil forces for a plethora of sacralized rituals; some of the practices adopted there redefine the space as other than Lagos. For the church leadership, they are “religion-making,” rather than practicing oppressive governance. Activities at the camp directly impinge on public life in Lagos and elsewhere in the surrounding states, particularly in respect of obstructing the free flow of traffic on public roads. Some have argued that the power of the RCCG should be reassessed according to the degree to which it is able to inconvenience and disrupt public life elsewhere. Furthermore, practically all of the attributes of the hypothetical “fundamentalist city” listed by AlSayyad and Massoumi are present in the Redemption Camp, even to an exceedingly oppressive level. The singular most important difference, however, is that the Redemption Camp is a legal private estate, subject to the organizational style and dictates of its owner. As a private estate, the management of the camp is bound by its rule of faith, and only the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nigerian citizens can limit its fundamentalist character.

This article is an edited excerpt of Asonzeh Ukah, “Redeeming Urban Spaces: The Ambivalence of Building a Pentecostal City in Lagos, Nigeria,” in: Jochen Becker et al. (eds), Global Prayers: Contemporary Manifestations of the Religious in the City. Zürich: Lars Müller Publishers, 2014, pp. 178‒97. A book by metroZones, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, and Europa-Universität Viadrina. Photographs by Stephan Lanz, Redemption City of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos 2010.