Urban development and vernacular religious landscapes in Seoul

Liora Sarfati*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Bringing out the importance of a holistic approach, Sarfati draws on her ethnography to show how the diverse and extensive presence of vernacular religion in Seoul makes even controversial practices, such as spirit mediumship, an inseparable part of the experience provided by the city. Drawing on the ethnography of Seoul’s religious urban landscape collected through participant observation and in-depth discussions and interviews, she explores the relationships between religious belief and spatial considerations influenced by fast urbanization, including hikes in land prices and professional zoning. Sarfati examines the impact of vernacular religion on the urban landscape through three cases of interaction between urban dwellers and religious practices. She looks at divination tents in central downtown spots, at shamanic shrines on hills and mountains around Seoul that become a debated ground when the city extends and encapsulates their sites, and at the representation of vernacular religion in the Korean media.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Urban Ethnography
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783319642895
ISBN (Print)9783319642888
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017


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