Special Issue "Sacred Space and Place"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. John Nelson

Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton St., San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: contemporary Japanese religion; religion and globalization; buddhist studies; the anthropology of religion; sacred place and space; visual anthropology

Special Issue Information

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Dear Colleagues,

"Place-as-Sacred" is the theme for a special issue of Religions to be published in early 2019. This issue will focus on entire regions of socio-religious activities where individuals and groups interact with a range of places deemed "sacred" (by whatever terms or norms are accepted in the region). The regions are East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Europe North/South, Africa, South America, Mesoamerica, North America, Australia/New Zealand. A 5500-7500 word article will of course note the histories, politics, economies, religious philosophies and common practices that have informed the logos­­ of the area. It will also integrate and orient readers to present day issues of personal empowerment through actual or imagined sites noted for features related to gender, healing, transitional states, or other dimensions.

This special issue will attempt to be inclusive of the diversity of people and their varied interactions with these sites, honouring the multiplicity of ways we interpret the terms “place” and “sacred.” For example, a city like Paris is known, observed, and monitored worldwide but is also full of sites that are "sacred" to widely diverse populations. That is why the theme of "place as sacred" provides agency to whoever is designating the uniquely ordained, set aside, and sometimes extraordinary features of a particular location. We also want to acknowledge how these influences can be rejected, reformed, and repurposed, such as we have seen in the example of Buddhism in Burma from 2014 to the present day. From the rhythmic continuity of churches and temples to the segregated expanses of most mosques––and from forest sanctuaries walked by individuals to "powerspots" accessed by multitudes through online designations––our goal is to convey the heritage of diverse religious pasts in shaping "place as sacred" for today's participants.

The proposal deadline is Friday, April 20th for a review of your paragraph(s) of description.  If you are unable to participate, please suggest someone appropriate.  We would also appreciate three-to-five photos per paper.

Please send a brief description of your project and how it...

  • gives an overview of topics relative to regional and global uses of sites deemed sacred
  • designates its particulars and generalities, with special attention given to issues of inclusion
  • is accessed and used for historical and contemporary peoples (stories are essential!)
  • connects with websites or Facebook to render itself present online

John Nelson (University of San Francisco), the guest editor for this volume, will review, comment, and then let you know about the status of your submission by May 1st. Once a preliminary list of participants is determined, the deadline for receipt of the papers will be November 5th, 2018. For any questions about the CFP, please contact [email protected].

Prof. Dr. John Nelson
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Deity Citadels: Sacred Sites of Bio-Cultural Resistance and Resilience in Bhutan
Religions 2019, 10(4), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040268
Received: 7 March 2019 / Revised: 7 April 2019 / Accepted: 9 April 2019 / Published: 15 April 2019
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Abstract
Consistent with the pan-Himalayan tendency to see the landscape as lively and animated, protector deities and local spirits are perceived to inhabit various features of the landscape in Bhutan, causing these places to be treated with reverence and respect. Local spiritual beliefs are [...] Read more.
Consistent with the pan-Himalayan tendency to see the landscape as lively and animated, protector deities and local spirits are perceived to inhabit various features of the landscape in Bhutan, causing these places to be treated with reverence and respect. Local spiritual beliefs are prized as central to the cultural identity of the Kingdom, making their way into government planning documents, town planning negotiations, and the 2008 Constitution. This elevation of local spiritual belief has been central to the maintenance and preservation of Bhutanese culture in its encounter with globally hegemonic social, economic, and political norms. Spirits and deities are believed to be the original owners of the land predating the introduction of Buddhism from Tibet. According to terma texts—spiritual treasures hidden by great Buddhist teachers to be discovered later—the initial introduction of Buddhism into Bhutan occurred in the seventh century. At that time, the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo, the 32nd king of the Yarlung dynasty, built two temples in western and central parts of Bhutan as part of a strategy to pin down a demoness who was ravaging the Himalaya. About a century after the construction of the temples, Padmasambhava, known throughout the Himalayas as Guru Rimpoche, or “Precious Teacher,” arrived in Bhutan, subjugated eight classes of local spirits and made them sworn protectors of the Dharma. In this way, local deities and spirits became incorporated into Bhutan’s Vajrayana Buddhism to the extent that images of them are found at Buddhist temples and monasteries. Vajrayana Buddhism and local deities and spirits twine together in Bhutan to shape a cosmology that recognizes a spectrum of sentient beings, only some of whom are visible. The presence of deities and spirits informs local land use. Deity abodes or “citadels” (Dz.: pho brang) are restricted from human use. The presence of a deity citadel is sufficient in some locales to cause the diversion or reconsideration of human construction and resource use. By grounding spiritual beliefs in specific sites of the landscape, the citadels of deities sanctify the landscape, becoming nodes of resistance and resilience that support the Bhutanese in inhabiting their own internally-consistent cosmology, even as the pressures of global integration seek to impose hegemonic Western norms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Space and Place)
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Open AccessArticle We Have Come Back Home: The Spanish-Moroccan Community, Collective Memory, and Sacred Spaces in Contemporary Spain
Religions 2019, 10(2), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020128
Received: 12 December 2018 / Revised: 18 February 2019 / Accepted: 19 February 2019 / Published: 22 February 2019
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Abstract
This paper examines the role of Islamic sacred spaces in Spanish-Moroccan identity negotiations in contemporary Madrid, Spain. In doing so, I explore how these sacred sites produce diverse meanings and practices that resist the Spanish states hegemonic narratives of place. I argue that [...] Read more.
This paper examines the role of Islamic sacred spaces in Spanish-Moroccan identity negotiations in contemporary Madrid, Spain. In doing so, I explore how these sacred sites produce diverse meanings and practices that resist the Spanish states hegemonic narratives of place. I argue that the multilayered resistance via the “memory” and “place” of these sacred sites ostensibly reconciles and situates Spanish-Moroccans within the larger Spanish imagined community. The paper will first discuss the trans-local experiences of the Spanish-Moroccan community and how their liminal state of being neither “here or there” necessitates an anchor (Muslim sacred spaces) to the new home context. I will then outline a brief historical narrative of the Muslim presence in Spain and then analyze the meanings attached to the sacrality of Islamic monuments and mosques to the Spanish-Moroccan community. Finally, the paper will explore how the historical memories and their discursive meanings attached to these sacred sites allow Spanish-Moroccans to produce counterhegemonic frameworks that challenge and reshape nationalistic spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Space and Place)
Open AccessArticle Hardwar: Spirit, Place, and Politics
Religions 2019, 10(2), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020121
Received: 5 December 2018 / Revised: 31 January 2019 / Accepted: 10 February 2019 / Published: 18 February 2019
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Abstract
This article describes the narratives and projections that shaped the contested character of Hardwar and the river Ganges as symbols par excellence of the Hindus’ claim to India’s sacred geography over the last two hundred years. It deliberates on the tactics and practices [...] Read more.
This article describes the narratives and projections that shaped the contested character of Hardwar and the river Ganges as symbols par excellence of the Hindus’ claim to India’s sacred geography over the last two hundred years. It deliberates on the tactics and practices through which Hardwar’s ancient and legendary status has been employed to assert Hindu identity and territorial claims vis-à-vis the colonial administrators, but also to exclude the country’s Muslim and Christian populace. The purifying, divine land of Hardwar enabled the nationalist imagination and struggle for a Hindu India, even as it was instituted as a site for the internal purification of Hinduism itself, to mirror its glorious past. The article describes the contests and claims, based on religion and class, as well as the performance of socio-economic and existential anxieties that the sacred quality of Hardwar and the river Ganges continues to authorize and enable in post-colonial India. For this, we draw particularly on the Kanwar Mela, an annual event in which millions of mostly poor young men carry water from the river Ganges on foot, and often over long distances. We deliberate on the significance of the sacred water, rituals, and the journey in reinforcing these pilgrims’ perceptions of the self, and their moral claims over the nation and its territory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Space and Place)
Open AccessArticle Charged Moments: Landscape and the Experience of the Sacred among Catholic Monks in North America
Religions 2019, 10(2), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020086
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 23 January 2019 / Accepted: 24 January 2019 / Published: 29 January 2019
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Abstract
In light of calls to ‘re-enchant’ the world in the face of our ecological crisis, where do Christians stand on the question of land being sacred? I put this question to monks living at four monastic communities in the American West. For monks [...] Read more.
In light of calls to ‘re-enchant’ the world in the face of our ecological crisis, where do Christians stand on the question of land being sacred? I put this question to monks living at four monastic communities in the American West. For monks living on the land, the world is sacramental of God’s presence. However, this sacramental character was not universally recognized as being sacred, or divine. The monastic presence on the land can give places a sacred character through their work and prayer. Far fewer monks admitted that land was intrinsically sacred. However, during what one monk called “charged moments” the sacredness of God was seen as manifesting through the land. Thus, while there is no consensus among monks as to the sacredness of land, there is a deep reverence for place and landscape at the heart of monastic spirituality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Space and Place)
Open AccessArticle Phantasmagorical Buddhism: Dreams and Imagination in the Creation of Burmese Sacred Space
Religions 2018, 9(12), 414; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120414
Received: 17 November 2018 / Revised: 8 December 2018 / Accepted: 11 December 2018 / Published: 13 December 2018
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Abstract
Despite the growing research done on sacred spaces in Buddhist Myanmar, no attention has yet been given to the role dreams play in the selection and development of such spaces. This article will address this lacuna by exploring how dreams are regarded by [...] Read more.
Despite the growing research done on sacred spaces in Buddhist Myanmar, no attention has yet been given to the role dreams play in the selection and development of such spaces. This article will address this lacuna by exploring how dreams are regarded by 20th–21st centuries Buddhists in Myanmar, as evidenced in autobiographies, ethnographic work, and popular literature in relation to the creation and evolution of sacred places. Although there are many kinds of sacred sites in Myanmar, this article will look specifically at Buddhist stupas, commonly referred to in Burmese as, pagoda or zedi. These pagodas, found in nearly every part of Buddhist Myanmar, are also those structures most prevalent in Buddhist dream accounts and often take on phantasmagorical qualities when those same Buddhists attempt to recreate the pagodas of their dreams. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Space and Place)
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Open AccessArticle Sacred Places and Sustainable Development
Religions 2018, 9(10), 299; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9100299
Received: 12 June 2018 / Revised: 19 July 2018 / Accepted: 1 October 2018 / Published: 4 October 2018
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Abstract
Religious beliefs are not only profound, some of them are also pervasive, persistent and persuasive. It follows that the cultural and religious experiences of communities often play a central role in determining their worldviews and the ways in which they understand their own [...] Read more.
Religious beliefs are not only profound, some of them are also pervasive, persistent and persuasive. It follows that the cultural and religious experiences of communities often play a central role in determining their worldviews and the ways in which they understand their own circumstances. These worldviews, it follows, can thereby assist in providing narratives for community development in places that have particular meaning to these communities and individuals within them, and thereby enhance the long-term success of such initiatives. One often-overlooked aspect in research up until recently is the role that these often sacred places can play in sustainable development. This paper undertakes a study of development spaces situated in sacred places, in this case of a women’s Buddhist monastery on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, devoted to gender equity. It begins with an overview of research pertaining to religion and development, religion in contemporary societies, and sacred places, and concludes with an analysis of the case study data that recognizes the need to consider the significance of sacred places, and narratives attached to them, in sustainable community development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Space and Place)
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