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Religion and Senses of Place

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Precisely because religion involves bodily and sensual activities, it happens in places. Indeed, religious locations are among the most vibrant, colourful, dramatic and engaging aspects of many cultures. The attraction of pilgrimage destinations as tourism and heritage locations evidences their power. Religiously important places are richly expressive of all that is important to particular communities – at the same time potentially illustrating all that is objectional to others. Single trees, springs, mountains, rivers or other “found places” are selected as the focal points of some religions’ festivals, ceremonies and narratives. Such activities do not leave such places as they were found but shape them as they continue to shape continuing religious developments.

This volume examines sense of place in which people not only perform religious acts in particular places but also understand emplacement / belonging to be key features of their religious practices and identities. Such places include specific local shrines and large territories. Religion and Senses of Place focuses on case studies of religions originating in South Asia and those identifiable as “Indigenous”.

A range of phenomena expressive and educative of senses of place are discussed in this volume. They include the presence and presentation of religion in shrines, museums, homes and other places; pilgrimages, diasporas, exiles, dislocations, border crossings, inter-religious performances and other styles of movement; cosmologies; auspicious and inauspicious locations; topophilia and utopianism; and more. The case studies are not intended solely to present “data” (and do not only address scholarship of South Asian and Indigenous originating religions) but include discussion of methods for studying religious senses of place – as well as religions as senses of place. The contributions in the volume come from scholars with expertise in a range of approaches and methods in order to illustrate the breadth of possibilities for studying religious senses of place.

Published: Nov 1, 2021


Section Chapter Authors
Part One: Religions of South Asian Origin
1. Clouds Drifting Through a Landscape: Glimpses of Rishikesh Stephen Jacobs
2. Ji Aya Nu: Gurdwaras as Refuge and Target in the Islamophobic World Order Tavleen Kaur
3. The Role of Place in Shaping the Practice and Meaning of Seva among Jain Ascetics in Gujarat, India Bindi Shah, N. Rajaram
4. Aughars and their ‘Place’ in the World Jishnu Shankar
5. Sense, Place and the Goddess: Devotion to Kali in Cross-cultural Perspective Nicole Petersen
6. The Spirit of Place: Shared Encounters with the Bauls and Fakirs of West Bengal Denise Doyle, Tara Baoth Mooney
Part Two: Religions of Indigenous Origin
7. Senses of Place in Khasi Indigenous Religion Margaret Lyngdoh
8. Mesoamerican Quadripartitioned Place-Within-Space Miguel Astor-Aguilera
9. A Tuna in Every Puna: Photofilmic Practices and Tribal Desires for Environmental Reinvigoration of Freshwater Springs Natalie Robertson
10. Indigenous Mobility Seth Schermerhorn