This panel seeks to find points of connection between scholars in Archaeology and Anthropology who have examined in detail the religious buildings that people have constructed and inhabited.
Many of our fieldsites are marked and shaped by buildings constructed in order to express and mediate the religious practice of social groups and individuals. Churches, monasteries, shrines, and other buildings of these types, transform the landscapes in which many of us work, and the social effects of these sites can continue long after they cease to be used for their original purpose. How should we approach these structures? Can religious buildings, the ways they are built, and the architectural form they take, help us to understand the religious practice and beliefs of individuals and groups? What is the impact of religious architecture on the people who use and inhabit these buildings? How do the populations who live near such buildings interact with these sites? And what is the impact of religious architecture when the buildings are no longer inhabited, as in the case of redundant churches and abandoned monasteries? This panel hopes to find points of connection and shared interest between scholars in Archaeology and Anthropology who have examined in detail the religious buildings people have constructed and inhabited. Contributors to the panel are invited to share specific case studies of religious architecture, buildings that have been used for a religious purpose, and the ways in which religious buildings have impacted upon social life. The aim is to think comparatively as a panel about what we can learn from buildings used for a religious purpose, and to think about this across a range of geographical, historical, and religious settings.