Religious Heritage Spaces: Disputes and Convergences

Anna Niedźwiedź (Jagiellonian University)
Clara Saraiva (FLUL, University of Lisbon)
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Short abstract:

Varying attitudes toward the past, present and future of 'religion' and 'heritage' are revealed through and in religious heritage spaces. We aim to study how these spaces are constructed and cherished but also disputed and contested in different contemporary social, cultural and political contexts.

Long abstract:

Studying religious heritage spaces in different parts of the world reveals the complexity of current debates concerning religion(s), its role in the past, present and future, and tensions caused by occidental concepts of heritage (as related to 'the past') promoted by most global and national institutions. While at some sites 'religious' and 'heritage' seem to work as complementary categories, there are also places where 'religious' space seems to generate concepts that conflict with ideals of 'heritage', and vice versa. How do 'religious heritage' sites work, how are they constructed and perceived as both 'religious' and 'heritage', by whom and when? Why do 'religious' and 'heritage' coexist fairly harmoniously in some places and not in others? Which material objects, natural landmarks, architectural structures form religious heritage sites, and which are perceived as obstacles and unsuitable? What can be said about visible and tangible divisions of space between 'religious' and 'heritage' (for instance, in many historic temples space is divided into areas 'for tourists' and for 'religious purposes only')? How do objects labelled as heritage function in places of actual religious worship, and on the other hand, how do religious objects influence the 'secular' spaces of museums? How do different religious groups interact with the same heritage space? How do spaces of Internet and social media materialize and multiply 'religious heritage' sites and how do these processes influence affective powers of space and its materializations? We encourage papers related to these and other questions derived from ethnographic studies on religious heritage spaces.