Conceptualizing the Geographies of Religion in Education

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Geography of Religions and Belief Systems Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM (MDT)
Room: Studio 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Maxim Samson
Chairs: Maxim Samson


Religion occupies a controversial place within many contemporary societies’ education systems. This is epitomized by the opening of supposedly ‘segregatory’ and ‘indoctrinatory’ faith schools in several European countries (Berglund, 2014; Pecenka and Anthias, 2014; Perry-Hazan, 2014; Merry, 2015), disputes regarding the role of madrasa education in South and Southeast Asian societies undergoing processes of modernization (Park and Niyozov, 2008; Niaz Asadullah and Chaudhury, 2009), and contestation over representation and practice associated with the cultural legacy of religious ‘civilizing’ missions in Africa and Oceania (Wendel, 2007; Stambach, 2010). Moreover, public attention in the USA has recently centred on an earlier argument by the incumbent Secretary of Education that education should “help advance God’s Kingdom” (DeVos, 2001), a policy, which if executed, would mark a significant break in U.S. religious educational politics.

However, spaces of religious education have been subjected to relatively little geographical analysis (see Kong, 2013; exceptions include Hemming, 2011; Dwyer and Parutis, 2013; Vanderbeck and Johnson, 2015), even though geographers’ attention to questions such as the (re)construction of space, processes of representation, inclusions/exclusions, citizenship and social inequalities would appear to be of significant value. This session aims to highlight new research regarding questions of religious education, and the potential for geography to advance our understandings of these issues. Possible topics of interest include but are by no means limited to:

• Theoretical and empirical work concerning religious education and socialization in schools as well as other (often under-researched) educational spaces;
• Contestation regarding religious education, e.g. questions of personal autonomy, public vs. private faith, participation in religious worship, funding, multicultural citizenship, sex education, dominant constructions/messages of faith, etc.
• Family dynamics in relation to religious education and instruction (including same-faith, inter-faith and single parent households);
• The challenges of coalescing religious and secular goals in institutions of religious education;
• Historical perspectives also welcome.


Berglund, J. 2014. Islamic Religious Education in state funded Muslim schools in Sweden: a sign of secularization or not? Tidsskrift for islamforskning. 8(1), pp.274-301.

DeVos, B. 2001. Interview at The Gathering.

Dwyer, C. and Parutis, V. 2013. ‘Faith in the system?’ State-funded faith schools in England and the contested parameters of community cohesion. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 38(2), pp.267-284.

Hemming, P.J. 2011. Meaningful encounters? Religion and social cohesion in the English primary school. Social & Cultural Geography. 12(1), pp.63-81.

Kong, L. 2013. Balancing spirituality and secularism, globalism and nationalism: the geographies of identity, integration and citizenship in schools. Journal of Cultural Geography. 30(3), pp.276-307.

Merry, M.S. 2015. The conundrum of religious schools in twenty-first-century Europe. Comparative Education. 51(1), pp.133-156.

Niaz Asadullah, M. and Chaudhury, N. 2009. Holy alliances: public subsidies, Islamic high schools, and female schooling in Bangladesh. Education Economics. 17(3), pp.377-394.

Park, J. and Niyozov, S. 2008. Madrasa education in South Asia and Southeast Asia: current issues and debates. Asia Pacific Journal of Education. 28(4), pp.323-351.

Pecenka, J. and Anthias, F. 2014. Minority faith schools as claims for cultural recognition? Two examples from England. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. 22(4), pp.433-450.

Perry-Hazan, L. 2014. From the constitution to the classroom: educational freedom in Antwerp’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools. Journal of School Choice. 8(3), pp.475–502.

Stambach, A. 2010. Education, religion, and anthropology in Africa. Annual Review of Anthropology. 39: 361-379.

Vanderbeck, R.M. and Johnson, P. 2015. Homosexuality, religion and the contested legal framework governing sex education in England. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. 37(2), pp.161-179.

Wendel, J.P. 2007. Making and unmaking possessive individuals: ‘Xavier borrowing’ at a Catholic mission Pacific islands secondary school. Anthropological Forum. 17(3), pp.269-283.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Maxim Samson*, University of Leeds, Geographies of Jewish Education: The Dynamic Spatiality of Jewish Practice and Identity in the Anglo-Jewish Community 20 12:40 PM
Presenter Jolyon Thomas*, University of Pennsylvania, Geographies of Religious Education during the Allied Occupation of Japan 20 1:00 PM
Presenter Tatiana Fogelman*, Roskilde University, Secularity, national temporalities and the politics of religious difference in Copenhagen 20 1:20 PM
Presenter David Butler*, Department of Geography, University College Cork (UCC), Losing the Faith?: Protestant Boarding Schools in 21st Century Ireland 20 1:40 PM
Discussant Edward Davis Emory & Henry College 20 2:00 PM

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