The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Political Economy of Sacred Places

Joint Research Coordinator SUGIMOTO Yoshio

Reserch Theme List


sacred place, sacred-profane, political economy


This research will be a comparative study of diversity and similarity in the contemporary significance of sacred spaces. “Sacred” will be defined from sociological and social anthropological perspectives and the comparisons confined to the contemporary significance and historical backgrounds of sacred spaces in India, China, and Russia. In the modern West, religious traditions have been redefined, becoming more self-conscious, more materialistic, and, most recently, repeatedly redefined in postmodern terms. Ideologies have hardened into fundamentalism. In that contemporary context, sacred spaces have become “the impregnable fortresses” of increasingly materialistic and ideological “traditional religion.” They have also become the gardens in which the commercialization of and conversion into a heritage “consumer religion” flourish. While exploring the political economy of sacred places in Eurasia’s three largest nation-states, Russia, China, and India, we will reconsider the contemporary significance of religion, with the primary goal of fundamentally rethinking theories concerned with religious practice and dogma, and derived from Western models.