In an attempt to integrate the basic elements of all the other research areas, the focus here is on exploring notions and concepts of sacred space and topographies. It investigates the agents involved in the elaboration and application of these concepts, as well as the social, economic, and political consequences associated with them. Research centres on the (difficult) distinction between the sacred and the profane; religious imagination and religious practice, belief, and ritual; social order and protest; community building, authority, and power (religious and secular); boundary construction and transgression. Relations among Muslims as well as relations between Muslims and non-Muslims are of major interest in this context.
This area covers the following research focuses and potential dissertation topics:
- representations of "sacred space";
- the functions of pilgrimage;
- boundaries maintained, boundaries transcended;
- identity formation and power projection;
- communal conflict and sectarian violence;
- representations of holy places in popular art and culture.