UPDATE - Lands of Milk and Honey: The Spatial Turn in Religion

full name / name of organization: 
Ed Simon
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In his 1967 "Des Espace Autres" Michel Foucault wrote that in contrast to literary and cultural criticism's previous privileging of history, periodization, and time that "The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space." In the past generation scholars working across a wide variety of the humanities including literary theory, history, philosophy, cultural studies and religious studies have confirmed Foucault's prediction.

The so-called "spatial turn" has marked a determined shift in how we read cultural texts, from an overwhelming concern with temporality to one that reaffirms the centrality of spatiality to literal and phenomenological experience. Spatial theorists such as the philosophers Foucault, Michel de Certeau, and Henri Lefebvre, humanistic geographers like Yi-Fu Tuan, David Harvey, Doreen Massey, and Edward Soja, and literary theorists such as Bertrand Westphal and Robert Tally have all contributed to an increasing awareness of an interpretive approach towards questions concerning space and spatiality.

A particularly productive area of spatial inquiry, and one where spatial theory can be illuminating is in the realms of religious studies and theology. The domain of the sacred is of course concerned with temporality, but it is impossible to discuss religion without recourse to spatiality, and scholars interpreting religious expression, culture, and texts have made fruitful use of spatial theory.

We are calling for 500 word abstracts for papers to be included in an edited academic anthology on the subject of Spatial Theory and Religion. Submissions from scholars working across a wide variety of disciplines including obviously religious studies and theology, but also literary studies, history, philosophy, cultural studies, geography, architecture, art history, political science, sociology, psychology, and so on are encouraged to submit. Papers on any time period or geographic region will be considered. Potential subjects could include:

• Sacred spaces and places
• Holy lands
• Ecclesiastical architecture
• Conceptions of the nation in relation to religion
• Ethno-religious approaches to space
• Teleology and spatiality
• Cities with religious significance (Jerusalem, Mecca, Rome, Salt Lake City)
• Cartography and religion
• The desacrilization of spaces
• Pilgrimage sites and trails
• Secularization in relation to space
• Civil religion and monuments
• Cartography and religion
• Exploration, colonialism, and missionary work
• Cosmological space – Heaven, hell, purgatory
• The repurposing of sacred space
• Churches, synagogues, and mosques
• Space and place as the site for "hauntings"
• Travel writing and sacred tourism
• The space of theatre as a sacred one
• Utopia and religion
• The geography of paradise and Eden
• Geotheology
• Historical shifts to religion and spatiality

Please send 500 word abstracts as well as a short bio to Ed Simon (ens310@lehigh.edu) now by August 1st, 2016. A major academic press has expressed interest in the project.