(Dis)embodiment of Sacred Spaces in a Religiously Tainted Armed Conflict

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Cristina J. Montiel, PhD


The Marawi siege of 2017 destroyed both the St. Mary’s (Catholic) Cathedral and the Dansalan (Islamic) Mosque. We posit that physical and social interactions concerning these war-damaged sacred spaces undergo a process of embodiment, as religious followers psychologically fuse bodily experiences and states, with sacred objects like artifacts, gestures, and words. This study asks the question: How do religious followers embody, disembody, and re-embody their sacred spaces? We elicited collective narratives through a focus group discussion with drawing activities, among Christians and Muslims in Marawi. Results reveal that both Christians and Muslims embody their sacred spaces, expressing them in their collective narratives and drawings. Before the Marawi siege, religious followers deployed collective narratives of unity and wholeness. During the Marawi siege, religious followers experience disembodiment of both their sacred spaces and their self-views, as expressed in their narratives of discontinuity and fragmentation. When envisioning their sacred spaces five years after the Marawi siege, religious followers re-embody their Mosque and Cathedral and express narratives of renewed unity. Findings of this study present positive roles of sacred spaces in promoting interfaith understanding and reconstruction of war destructions.

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