This paper focuses on the question of what constitutes sacred space In the United States, particularly in the American West. two fundamental presuppositions intentionally were brought to the foreground during the research for this paper. The first is the idea that any space could be considered sacred by someone. This is important because it removes the focus from conventionally “sacred” places and allowed for more latitude to investigate places interlocutors had felt a sacred experience. The second presupposition is, in principle, that all people have a theory of the sacred and can articulate it. This paper foregrounds the experience of the interlocutors and their theories as puts them in conversation with each other. Over the course of six weeks this research took me across the American West to National Parks, Native American sites, conventionally religious sites (Buddhist, and Christian), historic sites, and a range of sites which might be considered “secular”. The paper takes narrative approach to understanding the experiences of both the interlocutors and myself. This is deliberate as throughout writing it became apparent that sacred space was a vehicle into the minds of not only the interlocutors, but also my own experience. While interviews often began with discussing sacred space, they often ended with us discussing the individual’s understanding of the sacred within their own life stories. The narrative approach also lends itself to a more accessible read to a wider audience. This is important to me because throughout this project many people have asked to read this paper once it has been finished.


Graham, Mark


Religious Studies


Comparative Methodologies and Theories | New Religious Movements | Other Religion


Sacred Space, Lived Experience, American West, Religious Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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