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Moreddu, Elena (2005) Sacred places in Sardinia: Cumbessias villages, sacredness, and the dialectic of the work of art. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study is an interdisciplinary investigation into the notion of place and, particularly, a sacred place. Disciplines such as Architecture, Philosophy, and Social Anthropology converge to explore the concepts of space, place, sacredness, genius loci, sacred architecture, and work of art, with particular reference to the cumbessias villages that represent important sites of popular religiosity in Sardinia (Italy). The analysis, which focuses on six of these villages mainly distributed in the central inland territory, has started from the premise that a sacred place, hence a cumbessias village, should be intended as a work of art. In this regard, we have welcomed and adopted the Heideggerian elaboration of the concept of 'place' together with that of 'work of art'. Places and works of art are both the outcome of a hermeneutical engagement, they are the result of a creative process. Yet, they are not inanimate objects but rather disclose a world of their own. The encounter between these worlds and the human creative agency disclose every time a new horizon of meaning nurturing both subjects of this relationship. We have been asking what kind of experience is lived by the people, the devotees, within these sacred places (i.e., cumbessias villages). Through what kind of process is this experience lived? And, eventually, what is the effect it produces on both the interlocutors, people and sacred places? Through the adoption of the Gadamerian metaphor of 'play' we have argued how the recurrent encounter between devotees and their sacred places (works of art) during the religious occasion of a novena is mutually constitutive on an existential level. It is precisely through devotees' complete participation in the alterity/otherness of the work of art or cumbessias village's own world that a so called 'enlargement of consciousness' and an increase of being/transformation can be achieved.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:12

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