The Making Suburban Faith project were very proud to be part of ‘The Politics of the Suburb’ symposium hosted by Rupa Huq MP at the House of Commons a few weeks before Christmas.
Whilst most of our colleagues were looking forward to the final week of term and assorted Christmas parties and events, we were passing through security checks and, somewhat more wide-eyed than senior academics would like to admit, passed through the central lobby to the symposium hosted by Rupa Huq and Political Quarterly. As well as being Labour MP for Ealing Central and Action (covering large sections of our case study area) Rupa is a well-established academic who has written extensively on suburban issues. The symposium had a mix of academic speakers and politicians, including MPs John Cruddas and Tristram Hunt.
The event had three themes
1) The Changing Political Demography of Regional Suburbia: London, Merseyside the North East and the American Experience
2) Diversity in Suburbia: Religion, Faith, Women and the Challenge to Fixed Political Perspectives
3) Historical Precedent and Future Prospects for the Suburbs
Professor David Gilbert and Dr. Claire Dwyer presented a short paper on ‘Changing Suburbia and the Politics of Faith’ which drew on our research project to highlight that many of the most religiously diverse places in the UK are suburbs. The paper also illustrated the dynamics of new religious buildings in the suburbs and the challenges these sometime post in relation to planning. The paper was well received, prompting some debate and also generating some interesting and relevant new contacts for the research project.
The Making Suburban Faith project actively aims to impact outside of the academy, engaging both ordinary members of the public as well as policy makers and politicians. Events like this are important in helping us to achieve this aim, and The Politics of the Suburbs enabled us to inform MPs of our work and findings in an engaging environment.
Papers from the event have been commissioned and will appear in a forthcoming special issue of the journal The Political Quarterly.