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We welcome individual papers, papers sessions, and roundtable proposals for topics exploring space and place as they relate to religion. We are particularly 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 also 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. We desire to have one session focusing on religious spaces in Asia. This year we particularly interested in sessions on the following topics:

Scale and Space
Exploring issues of large space (continent, country) to small (church pew). Paper topics could include digital humanities, GIS, and methodologies of studying space and place in varying scales.

San Antonio: This session explores San Antonio as a transcultural “contact zone” where:
• encounter and exchange between people of varied religio-racial identities, communities, and cultures has led to a dynamic and hybrid religious history
• The violence of colonial conquests, forced religious conversions, the transatlantic slave trade, and US expansionism are central to the “imperial
formations” (Ann Laura Stoler) of the city both past and present
• The above factors have profoundly impacted both the built environment and the natural landscape, flora, and fauna
• as well as the production and commemoration of imperial myths alongside de and postcolonial religio-racial narratives and ways of being, belonging,
and meaning-making that challenge and resist them
This session aims to interrogate these dynamics - at various historical periods, spatial scales, and through the human and non human - and the religio-racial histories, narratives, and myths constructed in and through the landscape of San Antonio.

Space & Prayer in Motion
Density, diversity, and movement characterize urban space. We seek papers about the city as a setting for spirituality, and especially about the way those who pray make use of urban environments. How do city spaces set prayer in motion or bring prayer into public view? We also welcome papers addressing how race, gender, class, accessibility, and religious difference shape the dynamics of urban mobility in such situations. Possible topics might include prayer walking, prayer in schools, public religious activities, the role technologies of movement play in these activities, and public spaces such as roads and plazas used for prayer. (co-sponsorship with Religion and Cities)

Pop-Up Sacrality
In the midst of a pandemic, practices of faith and spirituality have needed to be altered to create safe spaces for worship and devotion that still meet the needs of practitioners. What have these spaces looked like, what rituals have been maintained and/or created/developed, what issues have practitioners needed to consider, and how will these innovative devotions and worship opportunities shape spiritual and religious communities in a post-pandemic world?

Topics to consider:
• Creative Imaginings of Sacredness:
o Outdoor Worship
o Changes in Rituals of Devotion
o Spirituality at Home
• Spirituality Online:
o Virtual Retreats
o Religious Services
o Reading Groups
o Studies of Texts
o Virtual Wellness -- Yoga, Mindfulness, etc.
• Consecration and Sanitization
o How Sacred Spaces are Sanitized for Safe Gatherings
o Consecrating Virtual and Outdoor Spaces
o Hand-free Greetings
o Chaplaincy at a Distance

The Economics of Religious Spaces
How are religious spaces created or maintained based on economic models (donation, marketing, promotion)? Can these varying economic models be compared across and within religions and denominations? How have fundraising needs and philanthropic support shaped sites? Alternatively, how have critiques of money and religion affected religious sites and spaces? Topics for this panel could also include how the economic realities of COVID-19 have led to the shuttering or reimagining of space by religious groups or religiously oriented charities; how the Coronavirus pandemic exacerbated class-based differences in religious spaces; etc. (co-sponsorship with Religion and Economy Unit)

Buddhist Tourism outside of Asia
Building on Brooke Schedneck’s and Courtney Bruntz’s Buddhist Tourism in Asia, this panel's papers could link to the volume’s themes of secularism and the sacred, tourist imaginaries and place-making, and commodification in Asia, compared with Buddhist tourist sites outside of Asia. Other possible topics might include how Buddhist tourist sites are created in the West, the ways Buddhist tourist sites adapt to locations outside of Asia, and financial and economic models of Buddhist tourism in diasporic communities.
(co-sponsorship Buddhism in the West Unit)

Fieldwork and Place
How does space affect fieldwork? This panel would tell the backstory of fieldwork. Panelists should reflect on their experiences doing fieldwork and how the natural and built environment affected research and results. We are hoping for a lively conversation, which could be proposed as a roundtable.

The role of sacred places in contemporary European society and culture.
Responses toward sacred places often reveal unarticulated attitudes toward the place and role of religious minorities and implicit frames of reference toward debates on religion and secularism. We seek papers that reflect on particular sacred sites, including their symbolic, material, and theoretical dimensions; programs and practices toward protecting, preserving, and/or mythologizing sacred places and religious heritage; practices of pilgrimage, with special reference to the new realities of brought on by COVID travel restrictions; and new frameworks for reflecting on the role of sacred places in 21st century European society and culture. (co-sponsorship with Religion in Europe Unit)

Mission Statement:

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.

Method of Submission:




Katie Oxx, koxx@sju.edu

Brooke Schedneck, schedneckb@rhodes.edu


Steering Committee:

Courtney Bruntz, courtney.bruntz@doane.edu

Isaiah Ellis, iellis@unc.edu

Samuel Kigar, skigar@pugetsound.edu

Kendall Marchman, kendallmarchman@uga.edu

Matthew Mitchell, nobmw4@hotmail.com

Joy Palacios, joypalacios@gmail.com


Session Allotment: Tier 2 – Two 2-hour sessions

Next Review: 2024