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Sacred Spaces and Civic Action

Topographies of Pluralism in Russia

Melissa L. Caldwell

This article examines several key sites where Russia’s civic and religious bodies intersect in pursuit of social justice goals. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among religious communities and social justice organizations in Moscow, the article focuses on the physical, social, and legal spaces where church and state, secular and sacred, civic and personal intersect and the consequences of these intersections for how Russians understand new configurations of church and state, private and public, religious and political. Of particular concern is the emergence of new forms of religious and political pluralism that transcend any one particular space, such as for worship, community life, or political support or protest, and instead reveal shifting practices and ethics of social justice that are more pluralist, progressive, and tolerant than they may appear to be to outside observers.

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Religion, Space, and Place

The Spatial Turn in Research on Religion

Kim Knott

Following a consideration of the impact of the late twentieth-century spatial turn on the study of religion by geographers, anthropologists, sociologists, historians, and religious studies scholars, two trends are distinguished: the poetics of place and the sacred; and politics, religion, and the contestation of space. Discussion of these reveals substantially different approaches to religion, space, and place—one phenomenological, the other social constructivist. The spatial turn has been extremely fruitful for research on religion, bringing together scholars from a variety of disciplines, and connecting not only to traditional areas such as sacred space and pilgrimage, but to new ones such as embodiment, gender, practice and religious-secular engagements.

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Adjudicating Religious Intolerance

Afro-Brazilian Religions, Public Space, and the National Collective in Twenty-First-Century Brazil

Elina I. Hartikainen

Allegations of religious intolerance push courts to deliberate on questions that are constitutive of the problem space of secularism. In addition to legal opinions on the character and scope of religious freedom vis-à-vis conflicting rights, these arbitrations result in authoritative statements on what constitutes religion, how it may inhabit public space, and, ultimately, what interests and values underpin the national collective. This article analyzes three high-profile court cases alleging religious intolerance against Afro-Brazilian religions that were tried in Brazil during the first two decades of the 2000s. It demonstrates how at this time of rapid religious transformation the adjudication of such cases acted as a key site for the Brazilian legal establishment to redefine the place of religion in the broader context of rights and laws that regulate religion in public spaces.

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The Chaco Skies

A Socio-cultural History of Power Relations

Alejandro Martín López and Agustina Altman

The purpose of this article is to analyze the ways in which indigenous Guaycurú groups from the Argentine Chaco have constructed their relations with powerful non-human beings in the celestial space throughout time. This study is based centrally on

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Religious Tourism

Analytical Routes through Multiple Meanings

Emerson Giumbelli

Translator : Jeffrey Hoff

” in 2016 that is presented as “a space of leisure and shopping.” The sanctuary website systematically uses the terms “devotee” and “pilgrim,” but at one point identifies itself as a “tourist complex.” In 2015, the Sanctuary of Saint Paulina hosted the

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Paul-François Tremlett

In the autumn of 2011 and the spring of 2012, the Occupy London protests, informed by the ideal of a moral, territorially defined community, caught the imagination of British and global publics. For a short while, this moral imaginary was mobilized to contest some of the most glaring contradictions of the neo-liberal city. I argue that the Occupy protests in London registered a sense of public outrage at the violation of certain 'sacred' norms associated with what it means to live with others. More concretely, I contend that Occupy London was an experiment initiated to open out questions of community, morality, and politics and to consider how these notions might be put to work. These questions were not merely articulated intellectually among expert interlocutors. They were lived out through the spatially and temporally embodied occupation of urban space.

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Introduction

Religious Plurality, Interreligious Pluralism, and Spatialities of Religious Difference

Jeremy F. Walton and Neena Mahadev

The introduction to this special section foregrounds the key distinction between ‘religious plurality’ and ‘interreligious pluralism’. Building from the example of a recent controversy over an exhibition on shared religious sites in Thessaloniki, Greece, we analyze the ways in which advocates and adversaries of pluralism alternately place minority religions at the center or attempt to relegate them to the margins of visual, spatial, and political fields. To establish the conceptual scaffolding that supports this special section, we engage the complex relations that govern the operations of state and civil society, sacrality and secularity, as well as spectacular acts of disavowal that simultaneously coincide with everyday multiplicities in the shared use of space. We conclude with brief summaries of the four articles that site religious plurality and interreligious pluralism in the diverse contexts of Brazil, Russia, Sri Lanka, and the Balkans.

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Christianity and the City

Simmel, Space, and Urban Subjectivities

Anna Strhan

This article examines the growing scholarly interest in urban religion, situating the topic in relation to the contemporary analytical significance of cities as sites where processes of social change, such as globalization, transnationalism, and the influence of new media technologies, materialize in interrelated ways. I argue that Georg Simmel's writing on cities offers resources to draw out further the significance of “the urban” in this emerging field. I bring together Simmel's urban analysis with his approach to religion, focusing on Christianities and individuals' relations with sacred figures, and suggest this perspective opens up how forms of religious practice respond to experiences of cultural fragmentation in complex urban environments. Drawing on his analysis of individuals' engagement with the coherence of God, I explore conservative evangelicals' systems of religious intersubjectivity to show how attention to the social effects of relations with sacred figures can deepen understanding of the formation of urban religious subjectivities.

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Emerson Giumbelli

This article raises questions about the study of secularism, from an anthropological perspective. It begins by discussing some general references in the literature on secularism and its counterpart in Latin languages, “laicity”. It then discusses the approach for defining secularism that privileges models and principles, and advocates for an analysis of the devices that produce forms of regulating the religious. The study of configurations of secularism is the outcome of a consideration of all these elements (models, principles, and devices), and has a strategic focus on ways of defining, delimiting, and managing the religious. Three cases are examined in order to illustrate this approach: France, the United States, and Brazil.

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Two Venerated Mothers Separated by a Wall

Iconic Spaces, Territoriality, and Borders in Israel-Palestine

Nurit Stadler and Nimrod Luz

This article explores the role of sacred places and pilgrimage centers in the context of contemporary geopolitical strife and border disputes. Following and expanding on the growing body of literature engaged with the contested nature of the sacred, this article argues that sacred sites are becoming more influential in processes of determining physical borders. We scrutinize this phenomenon through the prism of a small parcel of land on the two sides of the Separation Wall that is being constructed between Israel and Palestine. Our analysis focuses on two holy shrines that are dedicated to devotional mothers: the traditional Tomb of Rachel the Matriarch on the way to Bethlehem and Our Lady of the Wall, an emergent Christian site constructed as a reaction to the Wall. We examine the architectural (and material) phenomenology, the experience, and the implications that characterize these two adjacent spatialities, showing how these sites are being used as political tools by various actors to challenge the political, social, and geographical order.