Articles | Volume 72, issue 3
Standard article
18 Jul 2017
Standard article |  | 18 Jul 2017

Postsäkulares Placemaking im oberpfälzischen Konnersreuth: Sakralisierung, Kulturerbe, Eigensinn

Thomas P. Funk

Abstract. The initiation of the beatification process of catholic stigmatist Therese Neumann of Konnersreuth/Bavaria (1898–1962) in February 2005 marks the beginning of the touristic marketing of her birth place in the context of EU-regionalization. In the case concerned, I argue, the Postsecular emerges in the evolution of new forms of EU-regional governance and in the controversial valorisation of a catholic popular cult as cultural heritage. I examine postsecular placemaking in Konnersreuth as a process, in which actors of the local civil society, the official church and the EU bureaucracy stage Therese Neumann by the valorisation of her material heritage, by sacralization and profanation. In doing this, actors renegotiate boundaries and transitions between the religious and the secular sphere, as well as between the regional, the global and the singular universality of grace. In their productions of space, local actors mediate between tourist and spiritual experiences of authenticity, between the popular demand for heritage and the awaiting for the religious event of grace. The postsecular, I argue, emerges in the insistence of parts of the local civil society to authorize the deceased Therese Neumann herself as an – though unwilling – supranatural actor in the placemaking process and in their legitimation of their own (un-)willingness to participate in the sacralization and touristification of their heritage with the will of the stigmatist. The article shows, how religious belief can play the role of a ressource as well as a disruptive factor in postsecular placemaking processes and neoliberal governing by community.

Short summary
In 2005 the beatification process of stigmatist Therese Neumann (1898–1962) and the development of her home town as a tourist destination started. The valorisation of a catholic cult as cultural heritage, the negotiation of new forms of EU-European governing by community, and the insistence of locals that the popular saint intervenes in the placemaking by supernatural means show postsecular placemaking as a conflicting process in which devotion is used as a resource as well as an impediment.