Religion, Culture, and History Series

Landscape, Religion, and the Supernatural: Nordic Perspectives on Landscape Theory

By Matthias Egeler

All societies fill the geographical space in which they are living with the holy, the sacred, and the supernatural. A lively academic debate has developed in the last few decades about how human beings make the landscapes that they live in and how these landscapes work. This discussion has repeatedly referenced religion and the supernatural, but it has never engaged either in significant depth. Landscape, Religion, and the Supernatural: Nordic Perspectives on Landscape Theory presents a summa of current and classic theorizing on religion and the supernatural in relationship to the land and develops these theories further by bringing them into dialogue with a rich set of folkloristic and historical data.

Focusing on many different themes, including time and memory, repeating patterns, identity formation, power and subversion, sound, home and unhomeliness, and nature and environment, author Matthias Egeler engages with a broad range of theoretical concepts and approaches from the interdisciplinary fields of landscape theory and the study of religions. He brings this theorizing into dialogue with the rich culture of local storytelling and landscape-related traditional beliefs of the Strandir district of the Icelandic Westfjords. In this rural region, landscape-related traditions have been documented since the early nineteenth century and continue to be important to this day. Confronting this vibrant heritage with the insights of landscape theory--both in and beyond the study of religions--allows important new contributions to both fields, especially through the inclusion of perspectives held by rural populations rather than the urban upper classes that have been the focus of research to date. The example of the Icelandic Westfjords shows the extreme richness of religious and supernatural approaches to the landscape that can be developed in rural communities and how they are significantly and characteristically different from the perspectives found in literature and the arts.

Published: 8 March 2024
352 Pages
ISBN: 9780197747360

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