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RELIGST 235: Sacred Space (RELIGST 335)

The marking off of sacred space is often posited as central to the production of the sacred as a generic category. Moving from Durkheim and Eliade's contrasting views of the sacred as either a collective imaginary reflecting society's self-image or the result of perceivable incursions of the divine into the mundane realm, this course will proceed to explore phenomenological (Lefebvre, Heidegger, Casey), anthropological (Basso, Albera, Couroucli), ritual studies (Smith, Bell), religious studies (Bigelow, Pesantubbee, Linenthal, Friedland & Hecht), and art historical (Flood) approaches, as well as primary sources (fa'il or praise literature, pilgrimage manuals). We will engage such questions as: What is sacred space? What are the possible relationships between sacred space and religion, politics, economies, material culture, and other social structures? Can sacred space be shared by multiple religious traditions and, if so, under what conditions? How does sacred space work as a repository of collective memory, a symbol of identity, a wellspring of community wisdom, a marker of spiritual or social division? Participants will study a particular site of their choosing (in time and space) and produce biographies of that place.
Last offered: Autumn 2021
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