Special Issue "Religious Space as Cultural Heritage"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Ola Wetterberg
Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Conservation, University of Gothenburg, Box 130SE 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
Interests: Religious Heritage; Urban History; Development and Conservation; History and Theory of Conservation
Prof. Dr. Eva Löfgren
Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Conservation, University of Gothenburg, Box 130SE 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
Interests: Religious Heritage; History of Public Buildings; Urban History

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The settings of religious worship are rapidly transforming. Demographic changes, secularisation, and the attention of heritage institutions affect religious space and objects in various ways in different parts of the world. Some sanctuaries and temples lose their original purpose and are adapted to serve new functions, others stay consecrated but host new religious communities. Heritage tourism at some places thrives and intermingles with the ongoing religious practice. Other sites see declining worship, while sacred objects are turned into museum pieces or commodified and sold as precious antiquities. It is a fact that many Christian communities in Western Europe and large parts of the North-American continent have more church buildings at their disposal than they can either use or maintain. In Asia, the resurrection of the Buddhist temples is driven both by religious communities and by the growing heritage industry. Whether mainly related to religious contents or to cultural heritage, the significance of most places of worship is going through changes that have and will continue to have thorough effects on societal life. These changes and their consequences constitute the focus of this particular issue.

The pastness of religious material objects can be determined as significant in two interwoven ways that depart from two likewise interwoven perspectives: internally, by the religious community, as part of a living tradition, and externally, by society, as a secular—scientific or cultural—heritage. The different, at times conflicting interests and motives of these two positions or stakeholders result in frequent interactions and negotiations that involve religious institutions, conservation professionals, tourism managers, and other local, regional, national, and international organisations.

This Special Issue aims to address practical, ethical, and theoretical dilemmas related to the use, management, and significance of religious heritage in a comparative and global perspective. We welcome contributions spanning from reflexive case studies to historical and theoretical approaches.

Prof. Dr. Ola Wetterberg
Prof. Dr. Eva Löfgren
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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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. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). 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.

Keywords

  • Cultural Heritage
  • Religious Buildings
  • Adapted use
  • Sacrality and Profanity
  • Secularisation
  • Global comparative perspective

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Transformations of ‘Sacredness in Stone’: Religious Architecture in Urban Space in 21st Century Germany—New Perspectives in the Study of Religious Architecture
Religions 2019, 10(11), 602; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110602 - 30 Oct 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Religious transformations in modern societies are not merely a discursive or demographic phenomenon, they also relate to religious architecture in urban space and affect the built environment at its core. Many churches, for instance, are in the process of reuse, closure, or even [...] Read more.
Religious transformations in modern societies are not merely a discursive or demographic phenomenon, they also relate to religious architecture in urban space and affect the built environment at its core. Many churches, for instance, are in the process of reuse, closure, or even demolition. At the same time, there has been an increase in the construction of new mosques and a reorientation in synagogue architecture in Germany for the last twenty-five years. The three religious traditions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—undergo remarkable transformations with regard to the design and style of their places of worship. Often, however, these new designs are not easily ‘readable’ to visitors and believers alike. In addition, the role of contemporary religious architecture in its relation to urban space is changing. Which meanings do religious buildings convey, how are they positioned, and how do they structure urban space? In collaboration of the study of religions and architectural history, we approach these questions by means of studying the transformations of contemporary religious architecture in Germany in a comparative manner. We survey Jewish, Christian, and Muslim places of worship, that is, new constructions, reused, and demolished buildings in Germany since 1990. The selected buildings are studied in detail regarding their meaning and positioning in urban space. This article presents findings from an ongoing research project and opens new perspectives in the study of urban religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Space as Cultural Heritage)
Open AccessArticle
Prospects for a Postsecular Heritage Practice: Convergences between Posthumanism and Popular Religious Practice in Asia
Religions 2019, 10(7), 436; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070436 - 17 Jul 2019
Abstract
By failing to document popular belief in the supernatural attributes of religious sites and by drawing up conservation management plans that fail to attend to such beliefs, current heritage regimes effectively perform a secular translation of them. I argue that the posthuman turn [...] Read more.
By failing to document popular belief in the supernatural attributes of religious sites and by drawing up conservation management plans that fail to attend to such beliefs, current heritage regimes effectively perform a secular translation of them. I argue that the posthuman turn in the humanities and social sciences, and in particular its openness to forms of agency, vibrancy and vitality in the object world, offers prospects for a kind of heritage practice newly comfortable with the vibrancy that belief in the supernatural lends to the things of popular religion. Focusing on the material heritage of popular religion in Asia—in particular in China and Southeast Asia—attitudes of devotees to the rebuilding of temples and shrines are examined. Practices of rebuilding and restoration come to be seen as a form of worship. While ontological differences between worshipers and heritage practitioners remain, it is possible to be positive about the prospects for a postsecular heritage practice precisely because the rationalist authority of established practice is so under challenge by the counter discourses of posthumanism, the new materialism, and related streams of thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Space as Cultural Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Preserving the Intangible: Orthodox Christian Approaches to Spiritual Heritage
Religions 2019, 10(5), 336; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050336 - 22 May 2019
Abstract
This article presents the ways Orthodox countries form their own discourses for heritage representation and observes how these practices interact with emerging tourism and preservation agendas. Recent history of heritage tourism in Russia and Ethiopia provides insights into how participants engage with the [...] Read more.
This article presents the ways Orthodox countries form their own discourses for heritage representation and observes how these practices interact with emerging tourism and preservation agendas. Recent history of heritage tourism in Russia and Ethiopia provides insights into how participants engage with the spiritual heritage of their Churches and the contemporary dilemmas produced when orienting towards preservation protocols that seek to safeguard heritage and make it palatable to a global audience. The Ethiopian case study of Meskel, the festival of the Finding of the True Cross, a UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) intangible cultural heritage entry in 2014, is examined in order to identify key issues when spiritual heritage is situated in preservation management discourse. The discussion concludes by considering a vital component of preservation efforts contained within Orthodox Churches and proposes that indigenous approaches to the elaboration and circulation of cultural values be an essential component of heritage policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Space as Cultural Heritage)
Open AccessArticle
Something More Than a Monument—The Long-term Sustainability of Rural Historic Temples in China
by
Religions 2019, 10(4), 289; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040289 - 24 Apr 2019
Abstract
The southeast part of Shanxi Province in China is a region with the highest concentration of early timber structures in the country, among which a majority are located in rural and semi-rural religious spaces. Social changes regarding rural population, religious demography as well [...] Read more.
The southeast part of Shanxi Province in China is a region with the highest concentration of early timber structures in the country, among which a majority are located in rural and semi-rural religious spaces. Social changes regarding rural population, religious demography as well as the ‘heritagisation’ process of these places of worship have presented unprecedented challenges to their long-term survival. A national campaign, the Southern Project, which lasted from 2005–2015 has facilitated a series of restoration projects in this region, covering 105 national heritage sites with pre-Yuan Dynasty structures, yet their maintenance, management and sustainable functions remain uncertain despite their improved ‘physical’ health. It also raises the question of how these (former) places of worship can be integrated into contemporary society. By analysing the data collected through reviews of the relevant legislative and administrative system and policies, interviews with various stakeholder groups, as well as on-site observations in the case region, this paper aims to identify not only the observable challenges in the long-term sustainability of religious heritage sites, but also the underlying issues situated in China’s heritage management mechanisms and systems behind, in order to pave the way for further discussions of a sustainable way forward. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Space as Cultural Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
The Legal Foundations of Religious Cultural Heritage Protection
Religions 2019, 10(4), 283; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040283 - 21 Apr 2019
Abstract
It is common knowledge that the process of defining and protecting certain religious elements as invaluable heritage assets, is—more often than not—a complex one. In fact, it is exactly this, rather intricate, process that lends religious cultural heritage its powerful legal dimension, since [...] Read more.
It is common knowledge that the process of defining and protecting certain religious elements as invaluable heritage assets, is—more often than not—a complex one. In fact, it is exactly this, rather intricate, process that lends religious cultural heritage its powerful legal dimension, since the decision as to what and how is deemed worthy of protection and preservation is primarily made by Law. In this light, the present article will briefly examine the legal foundations for the protection of religious cultural heritage at the international level, in accordance with the principle of freedom of religion and the right to culture. Apart from the examination of various pertinent provisions, norms and regulations relating to the protection of religious heritage, crucial cultural themes will be also presented, utilizing a broader interdisciplinary approach of the subject matter. Within this framework, the model of res mixtae is introduced, in view of providing a better understanding of the numerous aspects of religious cultural heritage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Space as Cultural Heritage)
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