The secularization debate continues to dominate sociological studies of religion. Is it possible to locate religion in western secular society without being drawn into debates about its rise and fall? And, if so, then how can this be done? This book offers a new approach to the study of religion in the West based on a spatial analysis of religious-secular relations. It locates religion within the social, cultural, and physical spaces of the present using a method informed by contemporary spatial theory, particularly the work of Henri Lefebvre. In the first half of the book 'space' and 'religion' are opened up to one another. A spatial methodology is developed, and contemporary religion is reconceived within a field of religious, secular and post-secular religious relations. How various disciplines have contributed to a spatial study of religion is critically considered, and scholars writing on religion and space are shown to be inside rather than outside this field of relations. In the second half of the book the spatial approach is applied to a particular case, that of the left hand. Contemporary representations of this sinister but intimate 'other' are shown to embody a variety of values, traces of different religious traditions, alternative paths to salvation and self-realisation, and shifting positions on the impure, demonic, inauspicious and sacred. Consideration is then given to the future application of this spatial approach to the study of religion.
Table of Contents
Introduction; Part 1: The development of a spatial approach to the study of religion; 1. Opening up space for the study of religion; 2. Religion and Lefebvre's spatial triad; 3. Opening up religion for a spatial analysis; 4. Religion and space: The scholarly legacy; 5. The spatial approach summarised; Part 2: Applying a spatial approach: the case of the left hand; 6. The physical, social, and mental space of the right left hand; 7. The location of religion within some contemporary left hands; 8. Spatial properties, distant left hands, and the field of the religious and the secular; 9. Beyond the field? The left, transformation, and the sacred; Conclusion