Methodological Innovations in Spacial Analysis in the Context of Religion. Some Remarks about the Practice of Spacing in Religious Rituals on the Example of Silent Buddhist Meditation.

Friday, 20 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Thea D. BOLDT, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen, Germany
Whereas the theoretical approaches to the problem of space in social sciences have been problematised in the wake of ‚spacial turn’ and discussed broadly in the recent years, there is still a need for empirical research on spacing practices, especially in the context of religion. Taking spacing as an innovative concept that relates materiality and sociality of space into account (Löw 2001) and brings space in close relationship with communication and body (Knoblauch 2017), this paper presents the empirical project on spacing practices as material objectivation of the religious in the context of silent buddhist meditation rituals (also known as mindfulness meditation) in the West.

The project objectives focus 1) on material objectivation of religious as a product of communicative actions of the social actors involved in the design, construction and utilisation of meditation spaces, 2) on the question in what way and through what means the spacial organisation influences the structure of meditation rituals taking place in them. Since the paper understands rituals as forms of symbolic action (Soeffner 2004, 2010), the main concern of the project is not only how meditation spaces are shaped in their materiality through the translocal, polycontextural and mediatised communicative actions but also, on the other hand, how the meditation spaces are being constructed through the relational arrangement of social actors, objects and technologies insofar that we are able to speak about the ritualisation of the space and ritualisation of religious practices at the interface between the materiality and sociality of religious.

The paper addresses several methodological issues raised in the framework of this particular project, f.ex. what are the specific data requirements for spatial analysis in relation to silent meditation and how can these data be collected as well as how the hermeneutic analysis can be applied in order to interpret such data?