RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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3 Sacred Space, Pilgrimage, and Tourism (1)
Affiliation Geographies of Leisure and Tourism Research Group
Convenor(s) Jacky Tivers (Oxford Brookes University, UK)
Richard Scriven (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
Jan Mosedale (University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland)
Chair(s) Jacky Tivers (Oxford Brookes University, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 27 August 2014, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Room RGS-IBG Council Room - DO NOT USE 2020
Session abstract This session will start at 9.30

According to Park (1994,245), ‘one of the more prominent geographical dimensions of religious expression is the notion of sacred space’. Interest in this concept within human geography has increased considerably in recent years (for instance, Hopkins et al, 2013; Dwyer et al, 2013; Sturm, 2013; Megoran, 2013; Przybyiska, 2013; Dewsbury and Cloke, 2009; Daniels, 2009; Holloway and Valins, 2002). Linked to the idea of sacred space is the phenomenon of pilgrimage, which has been studied through ‘a wide range of approaches – academic, confessional, personal and canonical’ (Coleman and Elsner, 1995, 8), and which has also attracted the attention of geographers (for example, Maddrell and della Dora, 2013).

Today, sacred space and pilgrimage are features of all faiths and spiritualities, as well as being evident within the secular realm, and are therefore important concepts to be considered in relation to geographical understandings of places and their contexts. In addition, sacred sites and pilgrimage routes may be re-imagined as tourism opportunities, both by promoters and by tourists themselves. Indeed, Ron (2009,290) asserts that pilgrimage is simply ‘a sub-type, or form, of tourism’, while Tidball (2004) fears that it may very often show the same characteristics of ‘transience, spectatorship, non-engagement with the local culture and moral irresponsibility’ as tourism often does.

This session aims to investigate the co-production of sacred space through the lens of pilgrimage/theology/spirituality/belief systems, on the one hand, and that of tourism/leisure/promotion/visitor behaviour, on the other, addressing practices at a range of scales - individual, communal and commercial. Papers are invited which address this issue of co-production specifically, as well as those that deal more broadly with the concepts of sacred space and pilgrimage.
Linked Sessions Sacred Space, Pilgrimage, and Tourism (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Walking the Labyrinth: Experiencing a Sacred Space?
Jacky Tivers (Oxford Brookes University, UK)
Labyrinths are spiritual and sacramental spaces that may also be co-produced as leisure/tourism attractions. Labyrinths are of ancient origin, their use being closely related to the practice of pilgrimage; a few examples dating from medieval times remain today in the English countryside. However, in recent years, many new permanent labyrinths have been created, in both ecclesiastical and secular contexts (e.g. in the cloister at Norwich Cathedral, in the grounds of the University of Nottingham, in Rushcliffe Country Park, and in the town centre of Kings Heath in Birmingham), and my research has investigated why this is so and observed how people use labyrinths. In addition, a portable labyrinth was installed in a Nottingham church and written (and oral) feedback obtained about users’ experience of walking the labyrinth. This paper will address three key questions from the wider project - 1. Why have labyrinths become such prominent features of both church and public space in recent years and is this linked to their co-production as visitor attractions? 2. How are labyrinths actually used in practice? 3. Does walking a labyrinth make space ‘sacred’ for the participants?
The three sacred places of Kumano (Japan): walking, well being and nostalgia
Sylvie Guichard-Anguis (National Centre for Scientific Research, France)
Part of the World Heritage site called “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” registered in 2004 the three Great Shrines (taisha) of Kumano are still long waited for destinations for a small minority of pilgrims walking all the way from the coastline to the heart of the Kii mountains. The great majority of visitors enjoy riding cars to get to those places, which means a short walk inside the Great Shrines before getting to more relaxing destinations. Famous spas (onsen) dot this part of the Kii peninsula, inside the mountains or on the seashore.
Even if people still used to pray at those sacred places, their attractive characters rely more on their location inside a so-called genuine nature, blessed by forests, streams and falls etc. Today tourist campaigns aim at promoting walking and well being inside those mountains. Those cultural landscapes registered by the UNESCO help to remember a Japan of a vanished past before modernization and westernization took their toll. Local administration have to face the quick desertification and aging of the population, the very harsh characteristics of the local weather, etc. which compel them to recreate and reshape those landscapes in a never ending process.
Sacred music and sacred spaces – musically enhanced sacredness?
Silviu Cobeanu (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
Stemming from a great deal of personal experiences during concerts of sacred music in diverse and varied sacred spaces, from both a performing and audience perspective, on one hand, and the ideas circulated in a paper by Veronica della Dora (2009), this poster is the basis of a research in progress seeking to investigate to what extent sacred music is a vehicle for transporting, re-inventing and recreating of the sacred space. This poster also endeavours to identify succinctly three forms of sacred space, and investigate whether or not the sacred music is experienced differently in any of the these three forms. The poster will also try to confirm the difference between the sacred space and the sacred place, as experienced by the sacred music audience and performers. Thus the proposed three forms of sacred space are the temple/church/cathedral, the concert hall - as the sacred space virtually (re)created and the non-conventional site. A part of the research will also be dedicated to the perception of sacred music, in the Christianity context.
‘Ireland’s Holy Mountain’: symbiosis, co-existence and tensions on Croagh Patrick
Richard Scriven (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
In this paper, I examine Croagh Patrick, Ireland as a space that is simultaneously sacred and secular, political and recreational and of the past and present. This mountain in County Mayo, which has been the location of religious-spiritual activity for millennia, serves as one of the most prominent pilgrimages in Ireland, as well as being a venue for hill-walkers and tourists. Recent engagements with sacred spaces, being influenced by phenomenological and non-representational approaches, have conceived of them as being performed or in continual a state of becoming. Using my fieldwork experiences on Croagh Patrick, I explore how the different practices on the mountain create it as a space of devotion, leisure, protest and charity in ways which can be complementary, synchronous and frictional. By focusing on the embodied spatial practices, consideration is given to how these interactions form and forge meanings, places and participants.