Spatial Metaphors describing the Internet and religious Websites: sacred Space and sacred Place

Maria Beatrice Bittarello


The paper examines the spatial metaphors used to describe the Internet and the World Wide Web as both space and place. The paper focuses on textual analysis and adopts cultural studies and religious studies methodological approaches. Two different and co-existing conceptions of the Internet seem to emerge from the analysis of the metaphors used by participants in online activities, the media, and scholars describing this new medium. The first part of the paper examines how in the media and in the common speech the Internet is conceived of, and represented as, space; the second part focuses on how this medium is specifically constructed as place by religious groups.
The conclusion is that contemporary constructions of the Internet reinforce the postmodern stress on space, both real and metaphorical. Jameson's classic reading of the dominance of categories of space as expression of cultural dominance, is confirmed by the dominance of categories of space to define communication tools and virtuality, as well as by the predominant presence of specific countries, languages, and social groups in 'cyberspace'.


media studies;spatial metaphors; sacred place; sacred space; religion online

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