Thursday, May 07, 2009

Location of Minarets Sometimes Play into Geography of Power

Many times the location of a religious site is a key part in a battle over geography. The religious site can be a group's stake in society. Paris has the Catholic versus Republican battle over the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Montmarte while the Mormon civil war plays out in Independence, Missouri. Sometimes the conflict can be passive like the God, government, republic competition in Washington DC.

Geography Ph.D. student Seth Frantzman has also worked on the theme of landmarks battling over the geography of power. He has authored the article More than a coincidence: Minarets, geography and power which is a brief survey of minarets in non-Muslim and contested places. The article covers the rise of minarets to placement on old Christian and Jewish sites. The central point Frantzman makes is that minarets' height and instant recognition have been used sometimes to show Muslim dominance in a region.

Religious landmarks being used as cultural tools for landscape dominance is old. The Roman's built a temple to Jupiter and the Spanish built churches on American Indian temples in present-day Mexico. However, it is also interesting to see how this geographic tactic remains unchanged from ancient times. The plays may change but the game stays the same.

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