Sacred spaces: sacralization and spatial separation in Danish religious heritage contexts
(University of Copenhagen)
Paper short abstract:
When considered heritage, religious spaces become a spectacle for a public that is different from the religious constituency and for whom the sacrality of the place is not necessarily religiously defined. This paper explores the spatial evocations and effects in three Danish World Heritage sites.
Paper long abstract:
In deconfessionalizing north-western Europe churches often seek financial resources by highlighting the cultural heritage value of the church building, religious objects and/or ritual practices. At the same time, state agencies, cultural experts and part of national publics seek validation and recognition - both domestically through the promotion of national culture and internationally through UNESCO and tourism. For the religious constituencies that claim their religious space (usually a church) as a sacred site of worship, it constitutes a localized claim to religious sovereignty enacted by religious and ritual practice in the present. But when considered heritage, the site becomes a spectacle for a public that is different from the religious constituency and for whom the sacrality of the place is not necessarily motivated by religious belief or enacted through religious worship. Instead, the church as heritage site may be a sacralized focal point for ontological pride on behalf of another, secular constituency, like the region or nation; or for vicarious nostalgia of a tourist public. The religious congregation itself might even become the object of a heritage gaze on the part of cultural experts and of tourists seeking a culturally "authentic" experience mediated by the memorial and religious practices of the congregation and by the putatively unmodern, religious spatial environment of the place. In this paper we explore the spatial evocations in the three Danish World Heritage sites of Jelling, Roskilde and Christiansfeld, and the consequences effected through the spatial channeling and separation of religious and heritage practices and publics.
Religious heritage spaces: disputes and convergences