Diffused spaces: A sacred study of West Belfast, North Ireland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Historically, scholars have defined the sacred and profane as a binary set of opposites between the church (sacred) and city (profane), while neglecting the possibility of more complex or ambiguous readings. Analyzing the social constructions outside the church, in particular, can contribute to new definitions and valuations of sacred place in the public realm, the setting where the sacred exists amongst the profane. By stripping sacred space of "its politics and real history," our understanding of how sacred and profane spaces are organized or constructed never goes beyond "poetic metaphors."1 This is critical for the primary "site of speculation"2 in this study-the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods of West Belfast, North Ireland-because political, social, economic, and religious identities have long interfaced there. Even though dramatically decreased church attendance and twenty years of banal urban redevelopment appear to have systematically eliminated the sacred in the religious geography, cultural changes continue to give rise to new forms of spiritual statement. Sacred memory is not disappearing, then, but is continually being redefined and renewed within the public streets. In this chapter, I will join together "myth" and "mapping" in order to create a mythology of "social collectiveness"3 through the religious geography of Belfast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMemory and Architecture
PublisherUniversity of New Mexico Press
Number of pages34
ISBN (Print)0826332692, 9780826332691
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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