Valleys of Salt in the House of God: Religious Re-territorialisation and Urban Space

  • Bettina Malcomess
  • Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon
Part of the Global Diversities book series (GLODIV)


The diversity of the religious spaces and practices forms the major content of this chapter, which traces how the religious ordering of space and time extends across other modalities of city life: the moral, the economic, the somatic, the governmental. We aim to show how religion shapes the city’s spatio-temporal fabric through multiple processes of demarcation, territorialisation and movement in a constant play between formal structures and mobility. We argue here that religious groupings in the city aim to establish sites of belonging and moral order through the administration of spaces, objects and bodies, both in tension and in harmony with co-existing orders and territories. Religious groups, formally and informally organised, thus form territories within the built form of the city, but they are also perpetually in motion, perpetually territorialising. The chapter describes various processes of religious territorialisation: the conversion of spaces, rituals and sermons, and the trading and exchange of sacred and spiritual objects and services. Rather than an in-depth ethnography of a single institution, our approach was to travel between different religious organisations and spaces. Our chapter encompasses several areas of inner-city Johannesburg, reflecting a superdiversity of different religious groups within them.


Urban Space Errant Movement Evangelical Church Order Order Johannesburg Stock Exchange 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bettina Malcomess
    • 1
  • Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon
    • 2
  1. 1.Wits School of ArtsJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.African Centre for Migration & SocietyUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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