Places of power, sacred sites, Gaia's pilgrims, and the politics of landscape. an interpretive study of the geographics of new age and contemporary earth spirituality, with reference to Glastonbury, England, and Sedona, Arizona
Abstract (Summary)This dissertation is an interpretive study of the geographics of the New Age and (contemporary) earth spintuality movements -- that is, of the ideas and discourses of nature, earth, and landscape found within these movements, and of their spatial practices and cultural geographies. The study focuses on two places whose landscapes have become radically " contested " due to the growth of New Age or earth spirituaiity cornmunities: Glastonbury, England, and Sedona, Arizona. The problem explored and addressed in this thesis consists of three interrelated questions: (1) What accounts for the attraction or "spiritual magnetism" these specific landscapes hold for believers and practitioners of New Age and contemporary earth spirituality? (2) How do such landscapes become so highly "charged" with a variety of competing meanings? (3) What are the differences and similarities between New Agekarth-spiritual and dominant (scientific, economic) interpretations of earth and landscape, and to what extent do the former present a viable alternative to the dominant ideology's conceptions of nature and landscape as resource and cornmodity? To explore and respond to these questions, 1utilize multiple interpretive methods, including participant-observer ethnography, phenomenological-hermeneutic description, social and environmental history, and discourse analysis, to provide interpretive "thick descriptions " of the ways these landscapes are "spatialized." ("Spatialization" refers to the creation of spaces and places by a variety of groups or "interpretivecommunities" within competing discourses, embodied spatial practices, and cultural and ecologicai environments.) From these " place readings " 1 develop a mode1 to account for their spatiaIization as "sacredIandscapes"and as foci for the development of New Age 1 earth spirituality comrnunities within a pluralistic, postmodem cultural context; and 1 propose a " bioregional geopolitics " to account for the multiple interpretations of nature and landscape identified herein.
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/1997