TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (1): 91-101.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.002919

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Place Attachment in the Urban Unofficially Sacred Sites:A Case Study of the MT Youth House Church in Guangzhou

YU Xiaochen,TAO Wei   

  1. (a.School of Geography Science;b.Research Center forof Cultural Industry and Cultural Geography, South China Normal University,Guangzhou 510631,China)
  • Online:2017-01-05 Published:2017-01-05


Geographers of religion have developed ‘new’ geographies of religion that emphasizes different sites for religious practice beyond the ‘official sacred’ ones (churches, temples, mosques and the like) in recent years. Many studies acknowledge that ‘unofficial sacred sites’ are also full of politics, poetics and identity like the ‘official sacred sites’ are. Under the context of modern transformation, China is going through a rapid development in Christianity in cities, especially ‘unofficial sacred sites’-house churches. Although many sociologists and anthropologists have taken interest in this issue many years ago, geographers in China still know little about the interaction between house church members and private micro religious spaces. It is especially urgent to carry out studies on private micro religious spaces. The geographic meanings and religious contexts of house churches need to be fully understood. In reviewing of studies on religious geography, house church, and place attachment, we conducted a survey of the members in the MT house church by in-depth interview based on the dimension of place attachment. On the one hand, the MT youth house church creates a warm and gentle “family-style” atmosphere, and on the other hand, official religious images are introduced into the house church with indoor decorations, making it an ‘unofficial sacred site’. We argue that, through everyday practice, the members in the MT house church construct emotional space and social network beyond the physical space. The seekers and the Christians in the MT house church have perceiving differences in two dimensions of place attachment. In terms of place dependency, both of them show functional dependence. The Christians attend the MT house church because of a need of a place for worship, while the functional dependence of the seekers is based on social network and religious interest. In terms of place identity, the Christians have deepened the identity of religious and religious groups through religious activities into place identity. Additionally, immigrant Christians have re-confirmed their belief and identity in the house church. Some Christians have a strong place identity to the house church because it witnesses their religious experience. Based on the relaxing and warm atmosphere in the MT house church, the seekers have a perfect perception of place. However, they do not hold a strong place identity to the house church like the Christians. This shows that the construction of place identity in religious places needs a certain degree of belief support. This research is expected to contribute towards studies of micro religious space in geography.

Key words: house church, unofficially sacred site, place attachment, religion of geography