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    Religious and secular places: understanding the changing geographies of religion in Ireland

    O'Mahony, Eoin (2015) Religious and secular places: understanding the changing geographies of religion in Ireland. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    The secular and the sacred have long been placed in opposition to each other. This has been accompanied by a series of assumptions about the decline of religious faith and an increasing secularity. A re-evaluation of this is currently underway within human geography. This takes account of the fact that the secular does not so much replace the sacred as exist in relation to it. This is a productive relationship and is seen in distinctions made between private and public space. In her most recent review of the literature, Kong (2010) asks that geographers of religion go beyond the micropolitics of religious spatial expression to connect with broader political processes. I apply three examples from Ireland to show how a relational geography of religion can respond adequately to her call to move beyond the micropolitical. The boundaries between private and public space thus become more porous. Firstly, I examine the geography of Marian statues on ostensibly public ground in Dublin city. Secondly, I outline how pilgrimage practice lies on the boundaries of tourism and religious devotion. Thirdly, I examine the discourses surrounding the recreation of Catholic primary schools in Ireland as sites of the secular, within a broader political process. These examples show that distinctions between private and public space break down on some scales. However, in connecting the micropolitical with a broader spatial politics in these examples, how we conceive of scale remains important. The political significance of spatial practice on one scale is often subsumed within other scales. Using Marston et al.’s (2005) work on geographic scale, I propose a new set of relations between the religious and the secular. In this way, I draw the outlines of a map which reconfigures the relationship between religion and the secular as open-ended and contested.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Religious places; secular places; changing geographies; religion; Ireland;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Item ID: 6037
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2015 10:17

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