International Conference of Historical Geographers 2015

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145 Geographies of religion
Chair(s) Veronica della Dora (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Timetable Friday 10 July 2015, Timeslot 3 (14:15 - 16:00)
Room Royal School of Mines, Room G.06 - DO NOT USE 2020
Session abstract Historical geographers have in recent years returned to the study of religion and spirituality (Kong 2009). This session considers various aspects of the geography of religious identity and practice, looking especially at changing definitions of sacred landscapes, and the spread of religious communities and at historical evidence for the co-existence of religious communities in the same space.
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details:
Where is the Holy Land?
Gideon Biger (Tel Aviv University, Israel)
The Holy Land, the area considered to be Terra Sancta for Jews, Christians and Muslims, is very well known, but its exact limits are not fixed as everybody has his or her definition of that special area. The Holy Land is an imagined area and its map are mental map, established according the beliefs of those who deals with it. The Uniqueness of the holy Land is one hand – its holiness for three religions, and, on the other hand, we deals not only with a list of holy places, which is common everywhere, but with the whole area in which those holy places are located. Even though, The Jewish tradition can present three different limits, the Christian one is not precise and the Muslim's view is nearly not known. As such, the modern boundaries of Israel and Palestine are not the boundaries of the Holy Land, although those, which made a pilgrimage to this holy area, visit these modern countries, with the view that they visit the Holy Land.
Religion and Impurity in the Landscape of Ancient Varanasi
Ester Eggert (Tallinn University, Estonia)
Through the ages the city of Vārāṇasī located in the modern state of Uttar Pradesh in the Republic of India has transformed into a place where all true followers of Hinduism wish to take their last breath and be burnt on the pyres by the river Ganges. The situation of Vārāṇasī is controversial because it transpires from textual sources as well as archaeology that the cremation ground, which is usually located outside the settlement and considered ritually impure, shifted to central position during the first millennium AD. The presentation studies the reasons for this shift. The main emphasis is on religion and especially on Buddhism, thus incorporating the art and architecture as well as historical traditions present at nearby Buddhist centres (most notably Sarnath). Sources include Sanskrit texts, inscriptions, and archaeology. At the same time the presentation also attempts to define the relationship between religion and political power in designing the local landscape, which has retained its main features and locales for almost two thousand years.
The settlement congregations of the Moravians on both sides of the Atlantic
Jürgen Lafrenz (Universität Hamburg, Germany)
The Moravians established themselves as a protestant denomination in the eighteenth century and in a short space of time set up a significant number of branches in the form of mission stations as well as settlement congregations – the latter not only as strictly religious but also as independent communal settlements. The pietistic denomination, which based its way of life on the close interaction of members, set up branches at its own discretion. The formal and functional character of these settlements was determined by the layout which corresponded to mutual needs. It is evident that a flexible and adaptable system was adopted in the establishment and development of the settlement congregations which formed the basis for different modifications of several such settlements. The special question is: whether and to what extent the independent settlements, i.e. the settlement congregations, which developed up to the beginning of the 19th century, are distinguishable by typological characteristics. In this context, one must first examine the beginnings of the renewed Brethren, then their place of origin, Herrnhut in the Oberlausitz, and thereafter the establishment and dissemination of the further 27 settlement congregations on both sides of the Atlantic in order to finally determine their physiognomy as a result of comparable examinations of the individual settlements in general.
Distribution and development of Christianity in Prewar Japan
Masayasu Oda (Komazawa University, Japan)
This paper discusses the distribution and development of Christianity in Prewar Japan. The data are the number of religious facilities from 1900 to 1939 in national statistics. The religion has a history going back to the sixteenth century, but due to Tokugawa government's Anti-Christian Edicts in the seventeenth century, its modern mission started as late as 1870s. Although missionary efforts have resulted in one 1% adherents in the whole population even now, we can observe its spatial development especially in the prewar period. The number of Christian buildings increased above all in metropolitan areas such as Tokyo and Osaka. Catholic churches were concentrated in Nagasaki from the beginning because of the tradition originating in the sixteenth century, but the proportion of large city areas rose gradually. Orthodox churches were located more in the eastern part of Tohoku region. This denomination declined in number since the 1920s.