Geography Geographies of Religion
Peter Hopkins
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 July 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0106


In the early 1990s, the topic of religion generated very little interest within geography, and there were few scholars who focused on such work. Gradually, the field has developed and is now recognized as an important subfield of social and cultural geography. Most research about religion tends to focus on the geographies of Islam and Muslim identities, although this is now starting to change as more geographers become interested in religion and are starting to explore diverse geographies of religion, including focusing on different forms of religion and belief systems, different issues of inequality and social relations associated with these, and how broader social and political changes interconnect with religious issues.

General Overviews

Significant overviews of the field include a series of papers (Kong 1990, Kong 2001, Kong 2010) that chart the emergence and development of geographies of religion as an important subfield of social and cultural geography. Stump 2008, an impressive book, explores the relationships among space, place, and religion through a range of international case studies. A special issue of Social & Cultural Geography, edited by Holloway and Valins 2002 was one of the first of its kind in geography, providing a set of papers that explore the complex geographies of religion, faith, and spirituality, and Olson and Silvey 2006, in a special issue of Environment and Planning A, explores the intersections of religion, migration, and transnationalism. Knott 2005 offers a theoretically insightful proposal for how scholars can understand the relationships between religion and place. More recently, Brace, et al. 2011 and Hopkins, et al. 2012 have edited collections focusing specifically on geographies of religion, each of which includes a series of chapters focusing on different aspects of geographies of religion and belief from different parts of the world.

  • Brace, Catherine, Adrian Bailey, Sean Carter, David Harvey, and Nicola Thomas, eds. Emerging Geographies of Belief. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2011.

    This significant collection offers a rich series of international reflections on emerging debates about geographies of religion, faith, and spirituality

  • Holloway, Julian, and Oliver Valins. “Editorial: Placing Religion and Spirituality in Geography.” Social & Cultural Geography 3.1 (2002): 5–9.

    DOI: 10.1080/14649360120114107

    This introduction from a special issue provides a useful summary of geographies of religion and spirituality and contextualizes the papers that follow it.

  • Hopkins, Peter, Lily Kong, and Elizabeth Olson, eds. Religion and Place: Landscape, Politics and Piety. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2012.

    This collection provides a rich set of theoretical and empirical insights into the relationships among landscape, politics, and piety to explore a range of issues of relevance to geographies of religion.

  • Knott, Kim. The Location of Religion: A Spatial Analysis. London: Equinox, 2005.

    This significant monograph offers a compelling set of theoretical insights into the relationships between location and religion in order to propose a spatial analysis for the study of relationships between religion and space.

  • Kong, Lily. “Geography and Religion: Trends and Prospects.” Progress in Human Geography 14.3 (1990): 355–371.

    DOI: 10.1177/030913259001400302

    This paper was one of the first in human geography to map out the development of geographies of religion and to suggest ways forward for future research.

  • Kong, Lily. “Mapping ‘New’ Geographies of Religion: Politics and Poetics in Modernity.” Progress in Human Geography 25.2 (2001): 211–233.

    DOI: 10.1191/030913201678580485

    Reviewing geographical research about religion from the 1990s, this article notes the focus on the politics and poetics of religious place, identity, and community before setting out “new” geographies of religion focusing on diverse issues, including different sites of religious practice and different sensuous geographies of different population groups.

  • Kong, Lily. “Global Shifts, Theoretical Shifts: Changing Geographies of Religion.” Progress in Human Geography 34.6 (2010): 755–776.

    DOI: 10.1177/0309132510362602

    This article charts the ongoing development of geographies of religion, suggesting new areas for research, including postsecularization and global shifts such as those associated with aging, urbanization, and mobilities.

  • Olson, Elizabeth, and Rachel Silvey. “Transnational Geographies: Rescaling Development, Migration, and Religion.” In Theme Issue: Transnational Geographies: Rescaling Development, Migration, and Religion. Environment and Planning A 38.5 (2006): 805–808.

    DOI: 10.1068/a37212

    This introduction to a special issue maps out the relationships among development, migration, and religion in helping question discourses of transnationality and to explore what transnational geographies might look like.

  • Stump, Roger W. The Geography of Religion: Faith, Place, and Space. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.

    This impressive book provides a detailed overview of the interactions among religion, space, and place and is illustrated with numerous international case studies and references.

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