Geography Program (SNR)


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Published in Sacred Places, Sacred Spaces: The Geography of Pilgrimages, edited by Robert H. Stoddard and Alan Morinis, 1997. Geoscience and Man, vol. 34, pp. 41-60. Dept. of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70893-6010.


To make comparisons among the many forms of religious journeys, scholars need both an acceptable definition of the phenomenon called pilgrimages and a workable classification scheme that reveals significant differences. Following a discussion about the elements that should be incorporated into a definition of pilgrimages, a formal statement is presented. This provides a basis for separating those traveling activities that should be studied as pilgrimages from all other forms of human movement. Further differentiation among pilgrimages can be achieved by categorizing them into a few distinct classes. Several criteria that logically could be utilized for dividing pilgrimages into various types are examined, but the final classification scheme depends on three factors. Each criterion is subdivided three ways, which produces a set of twenty-seven potential types of pilgrimages.

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