Who is Our Neighbour? A Question about Bodies in Space

In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus is asked, “which is the great commandment in the Law?” and he replies, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ The whole of the Law and the Prophets depends on these two commandments.”  Neighbour-love is therefore defining of Christian identity.  These two commandments are repeated in Luke 10, and afterward it says that a lawyer “wishing to justify himself” asked Jesus, “and who is my neighbour?”  The purpose of this class is for us to answer the same question:  Who is our Neighbour? 

Jesus answers this question using the parable of the good Samaritan, in which we see that two people who were not supposed to have any claims on each other – Jews and Samaritans – were in fact neighbours and as such responsible for one another’s well-being. Understanding the significance of Jesus’ parable therefore requires us to keep track of the social identities and relationships that set the stage for identifying the people who we have mistakenly believed do not have a claim on our love, or whose needs, which should determine the way in which that love is given, we have not understood.  If we are to know to whom we are called as neighbours, we need to keep track of the ways our identities as strangers and neighbours are being constructed.

This course will focus, in particular, on the ways in which organizations and conceptions of space create neighbours and strangers. Space is not neutral. While we are seldom aware of it, the ways in which space is organized influence the ways in which we relate to one another by encouraging certain ways of relating and discouraging others. This course uses resources from cultural/human geography, social theory, and philosophy to interrogate the ways in which the spaces we currently occupy affect community, justice, diversity, and power-relations and examines the ways in which scripture and the history of Christianity may provide theological resources for constructing space differently. 




Making Space

(Reading Notes: Artifact Analysis – Summary; Interviews – Questions; Mapping – Responses; Focus Groups – Observe)

Jan 11 –Sheldrake, “A Sense of Place”

Jan 16 – [Project Session – Focus Group and Participatory Diagramming for raising research questions; Introducing Participant observation]

Jan 18 – Massey, “A Global Sense of Place”



(Reading Notes: Interviews – Summarize; Mapping – Questions; Focus Groups – Conclude; Artifact Analysis – Observe)

Jan 23 – Agamben, Homo Sacer, Pt. I, chs. 1 & 2 | [Project Session – Additional Participant Observation Methods]

Jan 25 – Agamben, Homo Sacer, Pt. II

Jan 30 – Agamben, Homo Sacer, Pt. III

Feb 1 – TBA (no reading)

Feb 6 – Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror ch. 4 (ch.  optional)

Feb 8 – Sheldrake, “Place in Christian Tradition”

Feb 13 – Day of Common Learning


Confined Spaces

(Reading Notes: Mapping – Summarize; Focus Groups – Question; Artifact Analysis – Conclude; Interviews – Observe)

Feb 15 – Foucault, Madness and Civilization, ch. 1

Feb 20 – Foucault, Madness and Civilization, chs. 2 & 8

Feb 22 – Foucault, “Panopticism”

Feb 27 – Sheldrake, “The Practice of Place: Monastery and Utopia”

March 1 – Sheldrake, “The Mystical Way: Transcending Places of Limit”

March 6 – Spring Break

March 8 – Spring Break


Colonized Spaces

(Reading Notes: Focus Groups – Summarize; Artifact Analysis – Question; Interviewers – Conclude; Mapping – Observe)

March 13 –Kelly Brown Douglas, Stand your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, Intro and Ch. 1

March 15 – [Project Session – Analysis] LIT REVIEW DUE

March 20 – Kelly Brown Douglas, Stand your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, Chs. 2 & 3

March 22 – [Project Session – Analysis]        

March 27 – Willie Jennings, “White Space and Literacy”

March 29 – Kelly Brown Douglas, Stand your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, Ch. 5

April 3 – Willie Jennings, “Those Near Belonging”


Hospitable Spaces

(Reading Notes: Artifact Analysis – Summarize; Interviewers – Questions; Mapping – Conclude; Focus Groups – Observe)

April 5 – Mireille Rosello, “Conviviality and Pilgrimage: Hospitality as Interruptive Practice” ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION DUE

April 10 – Rowan Williams, Resurrection, chs. 1-2

April 12 – Rowan Williams, Resurrection, chs. 3-5

April 17 – [Project Session – Presentation