top of page

Religious Diversity and Spatial Adaptation in a Multiethnic Society

Religious Diversity_Negative Row.jpg

This project examines how diverse communities of worship and devotion have adapted the built environment to suit their needs in a multiethnic, polyglot society.  Focusing on Queens, New York, we examine how successive immigrant groups have put down roots through the creation of religious buildings and landscapes.


First, we study adaptations of the mundane secular landscape for religious uses.  Lacking resources to erect purpose-built structures, many immigrant groups make use of homes, storefronts, garages, and warehouses, converting them into churches, temples, mosques, gurdwaras, and monasteries.  In other cases, they adapt existing religious buildings from other worship traditions to new devotional purposes.


Next, we study the architecture, spatial configuration, and location of purpose built religious structures.  As immigrant communities gain a foothold in their new lands, and acquire resources, what kinds of religious spaces do they create?  To what extent do they replicate the architectural conventions of homelands, and to what extent do they adapt to their new circumstances?  And how do their fundraising, construction, and operation practices tie them into broader transnational networks?

Potential Lines of Inquiry

Catholic Urban Space in Protestant America: Compounds, Feasts,  and Processions

The Eruv: Assembling Infrastructure into a Space of Jewish Devotion

Sacred Storefront: Carving Religious Spaces out of Mundane Builidngs

Phagwah on Liberty Avenue: The Politics of the Parade

New Wine in Old Bottles: Converting Existing Religious Buildings for New Congregations

Muslim Prayer in Everyday Urban Spaces

Crossovers: Catholics, Buddhists, and Muslims in SE Asian Communities

bottom of page