Material 'Becomings' and a Historical Geography of Religious Experience: Metropolitan Methodism, 1851-1932

Slatter, Ruth (2019). Material 'Becomings' and a Historical Geography of Religious Experience: Metropolitan Methodism, 1851-1932. Area, 51(1) pp. 14–24.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12345

Abstract

Using Wesleyan Methodism in London between 1851 and 1932 as its case study, this paper explores the potential methods and outcomes of studying religious spaces as material items. Interested in both the “becoming” of their physical material properties and social meanings, this paper considers how geographical research can engage with debates within material culture studies about the relative importance and consequences of analysing the material qualities or social meanings of material items. This paper also responds to geographical and historical approaches to religious practices that are increasingly interested in individuals’ everyday experiences of religion, suggesting that studying the becoming nature of religious space can provide insights into historical congregational experiences. Finally, reflecting on the inevitable gaps and inconsistencies in historical archives, this paper assesses the methodological possibilities and viability of using material sources and analysis in historical geography.

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