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The reformation of place: religion, space and power

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter

Publication date5/01/2016
Host publicationAt Home in the Future: Place & Belonging in a Changing Europe
EditorsJohn Rodwell, Peter Manley Scott
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherLit Verlag
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783643906380
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In this chapter I reflect on the role played by the Protestant Reformation in shaping the western experience of place. First I examine the idea that the Reformation helps to effect a shift from absolute to abstract space, or from place to space, by purging the landscape of the dramatic highs and lows of spiritual intensity characteristic of Catholicism. I further explore this claim by situating this development within the longue durée of western religious history, a succession of distinctive ‘orderings of the sacred’ which together I term the ‘long arc of monotheism’. Second, however, I argue that the Reformation did not automatically lead to the hypermodern dissolution of space and the emergence of non-places but, more positively, constituted a final overcoming of archaic religion, and the possibility of a new experience of space and place. Thirdly I thus argue for a distinctive mode of placing, one suspended between the archaic and the modern, between belonging and not belonging.