Review of International American Studies
Vol. 17, Spring–Summer (1/2023)

Sacred Space in the Americas

Edited by Lucie Kýrová and Nathaniel R. Racine

“Human societies come and go on this earth and any prolonged occupation of a geographical region will produce shrines and sacred sites discerned by the occupying people, but there will always be a few sites at which the highest spirits dwell.” (Vine Deloria, Jr., God Is Red: A Native View of Religion, 279)

The connections between the spiritual and natural world and the temporality and permanence of sacred places, as articulated by Vine Deloria, Jr., have found constant expression throughout the colonial history of the Americas. As European settlement advanced, many sites sacred to the Indigenous peoples were abandoned, destroyed, forcibly transformed, or left in obscurity for their own protection, only to gain new meanings within the conquering or enslaved cultures taking root.

Thus we see modern Mexico City built atop Tenochtitlán and its sacred sites, the likenesses of US presidents carved into the granite face of the Paha Sapa (Black Hills) sacred to the Lakota people, or burial grounds threatened by building of new pipelines. Rarely, the emergence of a new place of Euro-American reverence may unintentionally help efforts to preserve an Indigenous site, such in case of Piscataway burial grounds on the Potomac River south of Washington, DC, which were protected from commercial development through a campaign in the 1970s to preserve the view George Washington once enjoyed from his home at Mount Vernon across the river. So too do Indigenous peoples sometimes succeed in their efforts for protection and return of their sacred sites, as in the case of the return of Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo in 1970.

The editors of RIAS invite scholars, community leaders, and activists to submit articles for its spring 2023 issue, entitled “Sacred Spaces in the Americas,” which will explore questions surrounding the nature of sacredness, its temporality and permanence. What constitutes the “sacred”? Where do we encounter hallowed spaces in the modern environment? How are these spaces endowed with meaning and why? How do they function as centers of activity and shared values? In what way(s) do they relate to other sacred sites and the larger world of non-sacred places surrounding them?

Topics of particular interest include, but are not limited to the following:

• Sacredness in ancient and modern cultures of the Americas
• Sacred spaces across international boundaries
• Archaeology and sacred sites
• Architecture and places of worship
• Sacredness as found in art and literature
• New and emerging spaces of reverence and sacredness
• Legal protection and contestation of sacred sites (through legislation and the judicial system)
• Role of government-sanctioned national/state/local parks, memorials, and preserves in recognizing, promoting, and preserving sacred sites, past and present, as well as the majorlimitations of such “protection”
• Alternative places of worship, remembrance, and reverence (drive-in churches, storefront churches, domestic shrines, roadside shrines, etc.)

The editors of RIAS seek abstracts and proposals (250-400 words) that engage with these issues from anywhere in the American Hemisphere. We also invite the submission of book reviews related to the theme of sacred spaces, published in the past 5 years.

Abstracts should be submitted to the OJS system by January 31, 2022.

Notification of acceptance will be made by February 21, 2022.

Completed articles (approximately 6,000-9,000 words, written in English) are due by June 20, 2022.

Submitted articles must include keywords, a short biography, the author’s affiliation and ORCID number, and use MLA Style, 8th edition. Technical information for images, if necessary, will be provided upon acceptance of the article abstract.

Questions regarding this issue of RIAS may be directed to Lucie Kýrová ( or Nathaniel Racine (