INTR 273 Sacred Geographies (Same as Anthropology 273 and Religion 273) (Not offered 2004-2005)*
Bringing together insights from anthropology, art history, and religious studies, this course will explore the geography of sacred space: the spatial organization of meaning across time and the world as humans have again and again made a division between sacred and profane. We will attend to this process as expressed in the geography, social dynamics, and architecture of sacred space, noting patterns of similarity and difference among and between the "little traditions" of folk and traditional societies as well as the "great traditions" of universalist and modern societies. Having developed an analytical vocabulary for understanding sacred space, we will put our model in motion by examining the dynamics of change, redefinition, and contestation that have so often surrounded the history of sacred spaces. The course begins by introducing students of theoretical models derived from our several disciplines, enabling them to understand the form and character of sacred spaces. Authors to be read may include Eliade, Bachelard, van Gennep, Metcalf, Tuan, Durkheim, Lefebvre, and Harvey. We will develop analytical tools for interpreting the meaning and aesthetics of sacred space as it is constituted in the natural landscape (e.g., sacred mountains, rivers, trees, etc.) artificially-constructed places (e.g., temples, monuments, shrines, etc.) and the intersection of the two. We will pay particular attention to the ways boundaries around sacred spaces are created, maintained, and violated, as well as passages to and from sacred places (e.g., pilgrimage). Once these interpretive tools have been developed, we will turn our attention to the ways in which religious and political conflict are both aggravated and mediated through sacred space. Specific processes to be examined include: exile and diaspora-what happens when a people are cut off from their sacred space; contestation over sacred space in places like Jerusalem and the Babri Mosque in India; supercession in which a late-coming tradition marks its relation to earlier traditions, as in the construction of the Mexican national cathedral on the ruins of an Aztec temple in the heart of Mexico City; colonization, as in the creation of new mosques in British and American cities; and cooperation, in which a sacred space allows for the establishment of links between competing groups and divided ideologies, as in Mecca or monuments such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We will conclude with attention to the role of these four processes in contemporary society, where diaspora, contestation, supercession and cooperation continue to have wide relevance for articulating the character of social conflict, reconciliation, and change. Format: lecture/discussion. Requirements: full attendance and participation and three 4- to 6-page essays. No prerequisites. Open to all. Satisfies one semester of the Division II requirement.