Mapping Spiritual Mapping

16 Jan

Short post today on works-in-progress. 

One of the questions about spiritual mapping that has emerged in my studies is whether it has a geographical component. Is spiritual mapping in the United States primarily confined to urban areas? Is it mostly a Sun Belt phenomena? Etc.

Thanks to some quick THATCamp training at the American Historical Assocation, I feel a little more comfortable with my Google Earth skills. Eventually I hope to map the full database I’ve been collecting of churches that have clear involvement in spiritual mapping. I trace “involvement” mostly by looking at testimonies in my primary sources. It’s limited in its scope but it’s all I have until I start sending surveys and doing some fieldwork. (My dissertation is mostly textual, so this kind of fieldwork has been put on the back burner.)

I’ve inputted one or two that you can see in this map, but mostly it’s been cataloguing so far. Since Google Earth outputs what is basically an XML document, I can add details later with a better editing platform than Google Earth itself. XML will also make it easy to use the data in another platform, like my SIMILE authorship project.

Spiritual Mapping in Google Earth

Google Earth is just a platform for the development and organization of this geographic information. Thankfully the information isn’t tied to the platform! It’s the visualization of the information itself for me that’s the payoff–a better grasp of the range of places where spiritual mapping happened.

The related project, a more difficult one, will be to map the routes that were used by prayerwalkers. Thankfully these are often the same churches. What’s challenging isn’t mapping the paths, it’s knowing what paths to map. This is another area where future research will be helpful to continue developing this project. Gotta plan for the long-term, right?


2 Responses to “Mapping Spiritual Mapping”


  1. It’s SLSW or Bust « A Lively Experiment - January 30, 2013

    […] Mapping Spiritual Mapping ( […]

  2. Summer Sorties | A Lively Experiment - July 6, 2013

    […] As I finally re-emerge from my blogging exile, I’ll be challenging myself to participate more fully in open research methods. Part of that effort will be documenting my digital religious studies efforts. For a while I will stay here on WordPress, but eventually I will begin hosting more and more materials at I will probably continue to post (or at least cross-post) here for a year or more as I make myself comfortable with managing my new site. I’m toying with Jekyll, Python, Ruby, and other web coding languages so that I can really understand how the backend of my site works. This will be valuable not only as I begin more complex data-driven projects, but also as I try to integrate this work into my portfolio. It’s no good having a dozen different homes for my projects if they are sharing much of the same data. (You can read about early efforts on these fronts in previous posts like this one.)  […]

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