Ealing’s Via Dolorosa: performing religion in suburbia

Authors: Claire Dwyer*, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON, Nazneen Ahmed, University College London, David Gilbert, Royal Holloway
Topics: Social Geography, Religion
Keywords: Religion, public space, suburbia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Studio 9, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper draws on on-going field work in West London to offers an analysis of the ways in which different kinds of ‘performance’ marked variously as ‘religious’ occur within the same suburban locality in ‘public space’. The paper’s key focus is on two religious processions: the annual Good Friday ‘Walk of Witness’ procession organised by a group of local Christian churches, which has recently been re-worked as the ‘Ealing Passion’, and the annual ‘Chariot Festival’ organised in August by a Shri Kanaga Amman Hindu temple whose participants are predominantly from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora. These two contemporary processions are analysed as examples of the extension of sacred or religious space beyond designated congregational spaces which work to sacralise suburban space and to make visible religious identities. The paper explores the intersections of religion, place and space in the re-working and re-making of ‘ordinary’ spaces into sacred places through a lens which acknowledges the sedimented histories of faith shaping the assumed secularity of suburban streets and parks.

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