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Retheorizing the Postsecular Present: Embodiment, Spatial Transcendence, and Challenges to Authenticity Among Young Christians in Glasgow, Scotland

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Peter Hopkins, Professor Rachel Pain


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This article explores and extends the geographies of postsecular theory. Despite growing claims of secularization, religion continues to be a highly public and rapidly diversifying issue, and of growing interest to geographers. We identify the spatial elements of postsecular theory, and consider how spatial approaches, particularly feminist work, that emphasize lived religion and embodiment might provide an alternative to existing analyses. Increasingly present in recent geographical work on religion, these approaches challenge the discursive, political and social constructions of secularization and its theoretical claims and, we argue, are essential for the continued development of interdisciplinary postsecular approaches and analyses. Drawing on recent empirical research, we apply this argument to the subject construction of young Christian-affiliated people living in Glasgow, Scotland. Their conceptions of authentic faith are intimately bound up in ideas of spatial transcendence – that is, experiencing and expressing relationships with god beyond the walls of the church. However, this idea of transcendence is itself deeply situated in the particularities of historical, social and political contexts. In conclusion, we reflect on the broader empirical and theoretical implications of our research for postsecular approaches to the study of religion and society.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Olson E, Hopkins P, Pain R, Vincett G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Annals of the Association of American Geographers

Year: 2013

Volume: 103

Issue: 6

Pages: 1421-1436

Print publication date: 22/08/2012

ISSN (print): 0004-5608

ISSN (electronic): 1467-8306

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/00045608.2012.702516


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