Approaching Religious Space: An Overview of Theories, Methods, and Challenges in Religious Studies

In: Religion and Theology
Jeanne Halgren Kilde Religious Studies Program, University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN 55455 USA

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The study of religious space, both physical and imagined, has advanced significantly in the past two decades, drawing upon theoretical perspectives and analytical methods from several fields, from anthropology and historical studies, to geography and architecture, to social and literary critical theory. Marking a path through this varied landscape of approaches, this essay presents a four-part taxonomy into which most can be classified. The categories discussed are (1) Structuralist-hermeneutical approaches, (2) Socio-historical approaches, (3) Critical-spatial theory and approaches, and (4) Critical-spatial approaches from within the study of religions. This taxonomy is intended to aid scholars in clarifying their approaches to religious spaces, both physical and imagined, and thus advance the study of this constitutive component of religion.

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