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ReligionMaterial Dynamics$
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David Chidester

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520297654

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520297654.001.0001

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(p.36) 3 Space

David Chidester

University of California Press

After a brief review of theoretical literature on space in the study of religion, this chapter illustrates the production of religious space through examples drawn from Africa and India. Theories of religious space can be divided between those that focus on poetic meaning, political power, or material production. Examples from Africa illustrate how religious space can be based on structural oppositions, such as the indigenous opposition between home and the wild and the colonial opposition between land and sea. Competition over the ownership of a place is a recurring feature of the dynamics of religious space, as illustrated by the conflict over the site in Ayodhya identified by Hindus as the birthplace of Rama and by Muslims as a historically significant mosque. Not merely meaningful, religious space is also powerful as an arena for asserting claims to access, control, and ultimately ownership of the sacred.

Keywords:   Africa, Ayodhya, Hindu, home, India, land, Muslim, sacred space, sea, wild

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