This Unit is a forum for exploring religious sites and the spatial dimensions of religions. We feature ethnographically-informed studies of living sites, historically-informed studies of texts and artifacts, and analyses of architecture and landscape. Our work seeks to shed light on the role of space and place in religious traditions and communities or to examine religious activity (performance, ritual, and practice) in spatial contexts. This Unit recognizes that spaces and places, real and imagined/visionary, are constitutive elements in religious life; it is dedicated to investigating how they contribute to contemplative, ritualistic, artistic, economic, ethnic, or political aspects of religious life using a variety of approaches and methods. We expect to include at least one session focused on spaces and places in Asia, in addition to sessions focused on other themes, regions, traditions or advancing the theoretical analysis of space and place.
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Space, Place, and Religion Unit
Call for Proposals
We welcome individual papers, papers sessions, and roundtable proposals for topics exploring space and place as they relate to religion. We are always interested in papers and sessions that employ theoretically or methodologically self-conscious and innovative approaches to understanding space and place as they relate to, condition, and constitute aspects of religious life including belief, ritual, meaning, aesthetics, and experience. We welcome ethnographically-informed studies of sites and historically-informed studies of texts that shed light on the role of space and place in religious traditions. Space, Place, and Religion dedicates one of its sessions to religious spaces in Asia. Our Unit is committed to diversity and inclusivity; pre-arranged panels and sessions should reflect gender, racial, and ethnic diversity as well as the diversity of field, method, and scholarly rank.
In addition, this year we are particularly interested in the following topics:
Chinese Religious Spaces and Landscapes
Co-sponsorship with Chinese Religions Unit
- Construction/deconstruction/labor and urban politics of changing cities and labor dynamics within Chinese religious spaces.
- Chinese religious rituals in the natural world
- Contact Courtney Bruntz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Co-sponsorship with Ritual Studies Unit
Within the framework of a co-sponsored session, we also invite papers focusing on ritual and circular space in different religious and cultural traditions. What shared attentions, patterned interactions, processes of inclusion/exclusion, etc., do circular ritual spaces put into effect? How are such dynamics affected by matters of scale, by the means used to produce the circular spaces in question, by a presence or not of something in the center of the circle?
Religious Landscapes in Art and Literature
Co-sponsorship with Arts, Literature, and Religion Unit
Religious, or sacred, landscapes signify historically specific ways of representing place and serve as sources of cultural memory, ethical action, and social change. Religious landscapes are sustained or contested through ritual, pilgrimage, and festivals, and representations of these landscapes are preserved in museums, memorial sites, art, and literature. This panel will investigate the theme of religious landscapes in various artistic and literary forms from any time period and geographical location. Thematic approaches to this topic might include: contested landscapes; pilgrimage and the movement of bodies through space; the sacralization and de-sacralization of the landscape; myth and imagined landscapes; or religious landscapes and environmental ethics.
Cyberspaces as religious and ritual spaces
Techno-spaces of ritual, practice, doctrine, involving AI, virtual reality, etc.
Space, Place, and Geography in Post and Decolonial Theory
Co-sponsorship with Religion, Colonialism and Postcolonialism Unit
Especially but not limited to the consideration of borderlands.
Statement of Purpose
Katie Oxx, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Brooke Schedneck, Rhodes College1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Steering Committee Members
Courtney Bruntz, Southeast Community College1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Isaiah Ellis, University of Toronto1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Samuel Kigar, University of Puget Sound1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Kendall Marchman, University of Georgia1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Matthew Mitchell, Allegheny College1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Joy Palacios, University of Calgary1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024