✓ THE PLANNER
Religion in Global Context
t Geographers and other scholars identify, map, and study
t Religion refers to the beliefs and practices that people use to understand the universe and their place in it. Monotheistic, polytheistic, and atheistic religions exist, but these terms provide at best a very rough approximation of a speciﬁc faith. Adherents of animistic religions believe supernatural forces and deities are present in the natural surroundings. The Candomblé religion in Brazil (see photo) is an example of a religion that is syncretic.
religious hearths because they help us to know how religions develop and change over time and across space. The geography and history of some religions, such as Judaism and Sikhism (see photo), have been shaped by diasporas.
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t Religions are dynamic belief systems. No religion is uniform or t Religious beliefs often provide the basis for different cosmogonies, which may be celebrated or reenacted through rituals. Shared rituals help reinforce a sense of community, belonging, and identity among adherents. Such rituals can also inﬂuence individual and group behavior and make visible a person’s piety.
t Religions can be classiﬁed as either universalizing or ethnic. Universalizing religions include Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Hinduism, Judaism, and the religions of many indigenous peoples are ethnic religions. Civil religion takes shape when certain aspects of religion become woven into the political culture of an area.
t Christianity grew out of Judaism, and Buddhism grew from Hinduism. Islam is the youngest of the Abrahamic faiths, and Sikhism developed syncretically from the blending of aspects of Hinduism and Islam. Most religions have experienced fragmentation into different branches, creating distributions that are complex and fascinating.
immune to fragmentation, though some religions have fragmented more than others. In general, the spread of a religion over space is likely to increase the potential for fragmentation.
Religion, Society, and Globalization
t The identiﬁcation of sacred space demonstrates that religion inﬂuences how people perceive and understand the world. Pilgrimages involve a journey to and encounter with sacred space; thus they affect patterns of human circulation and mobility. People create sacred places and sites through the process of sanctiﬁcation. Conﬂict can occur when the sacred spaces of different religions overlap.
t The tension between tradition and change shapes religious beliefs and practices. Modernism can be perceived as a challenge to the authority of a religion or even as a form of secularization. Globalization and secularization are related, but globalization does not always result in secularization. Indeed, the continued importance of sacred space helps illustrate this.
t In Hinduism, the caste system, now abolished, highlights
Religious Hearths and Diffusion
t All religions have a hearth, but the precise details of their development are not always known. Geographers distinguish between primary and secondary hearths. The Semitic and Indic primary hearths have witnessed the emergence of the world’s most prevalent and inﬂuential religions.
156 CHAPTER 5 Geographies of Religion
the tension between tradition and change. In Christianity and Islam such tensions are often expressed through religious fundamentalism. Since 9/11, Islamic traditionalism has received a great deal of attention, but fundamentalism can affect any religion. From Sabbath-day observance to sharia, the Abrahamic faiths in particular illustrate some ways in which religious law provides parameters for the management of social space.