Religion and Development in the Asia-Pacific: Sacred places as development spaces, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Religion and Development in the Asia-Pacific

Sacred places as development spaces, 1st Edition

By Matthew Clarke, Anna Halafoff


152 pages

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Community development is most effective and efficient when it is situated and led at the local level and considers the social behaviours, needs and worldviews of local communities. With more than eight out of ten people globally self-reporting religious belief, Religion and Development in the Asia-Pacific: Sacred places as development spaces argues that the role and impact of religions on community development needs to be better understood. It also calls for greater attention to be given to the role of sacred places as sites for development activities, and for a deeper appreciation of the way in which sacred stories and teachings inspire people to work for the benefit of others in particular locations.

The book considers theories of ‘place’ as a component of successful development interventions and expands this analysis to consider the specific role that sacred places – buildings and social networks – have in planning, implementing and promoting sustainable development. A series of case studies examine various sacred places as sites for development activities. These case studies include Christian churches and disaster relief in Vanuatu; Muslim shrines and welfare provision in Pakistan; a women’s Buddhist monastery in Thailand advancing gender equity; a Jewish aid organisation providing language training to Muslim Women in Australia; and Hawaiian sacred sites located within a holistic retreat centre committed to ecological sustainability.

Religion and Development in the Asia-Pacific demonstrates the important role that sacred spaces can play in development interventions, covering diverse major world religions, interfaith and spiritual contexts, and as such will be of considerable interest for postgraduate students and researchers in development studies, religious studies, sociology of religion and geography.


"The highest value and bulk of their book…is five Asian-Pacific case studies of how religion and development are interrelated. It is a fascinating multi-faith range – Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish and multi-faith, and a more holistic spirituality initiative – that demonstrates how religious places often undergird development initiatives by offering not just geographic space but trust, belonging and continuity with existing community rhythms."Darren Cronshaw, Pacific Journal of Baptist Studies (May 2017), 66-68

Table of Contents

1. Religion, Development and Geography 2. Vanuatu and Christian Churches 3. Minhaj-ul-Quran International, Charity and Education 4. Songdhammakalyani Monastery and Gender Equity in Modern Buddhism 5. Kalani, ‘Nature, Culture, Wellness’ and Sustainable Development 6. Stand Up and Muslim Sudanese Women in Melbourne Conclusion - Bridging Theory and Practice around Place and Space

About the Authors

Matthew Clarke is Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University, Australia.

Anna Halafoff is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Deakin University, Australia.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Religion and Development

The Routledge Research in Religion and Development series focuses on the diverse ways in which religious values, teachings and practices interact with international development.

While religious traditions and faith-based movements have long served as forces for social innovation, it has only been within the last ten years that researchers have begun to seriously explore the religious dimensions of international development. However, recognising and analysing the role of religion in the development domain is vital for a nuanced understanding of this field. This interdisciplinary series examines the intersection between these two areas, focusing on a range of contexts and religious traditions.

We welcome book proposals on diverse themes such as faith-based development organisations; religious players in health programming; proselytization and development; religion and the environment; gender, religion and development; religion and post-colonialism; and indigenous communities and development.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd (

Series Editors:

Matthew Clarke, Deakin University, Australia

Emma Tomalin, University of Leeds, UK

Nathan Loewen, University of Alabama, USA

Editorial board:

Carole Rakodi, University of Birmingham, UK

Gurharpal Singh, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Jörg Haustein, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Christopher Duncanson-Hales, Laurentian University, Canada

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy