Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



How do we define “sacred space”? I suggest that sacred spaces are not sacred for reasons geographers have traditionally accepted - due to connections to a religion’s creation myth, holy person, or event. Instead, places are made sacred by the negotiations of the sacred made there by visitors – mostly women – who visit scared spaces. Through ethnographic and autoethnographic research at the shrines of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Washington Heights, New York City, New York and Cabrini High School, New Orleans, Louisiana, I explore what makes shrines sacred for the women who visit them and how they use these shrines to confront life and death. I also highlight the power women have in making the sacred in shrines associated with the Catholic Church, which is run by an entirely-male hierarchy. The shrines allow for a place where women can exercise power over the sacred on their own terms. This work contributes to the emerging fields of emotional geographies and autoethnography, as well as challenging the traditional ways in which geographers have explored and ignored sacred space



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Helen Regis