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Spatial Transgression and the BYU Jerusalem Center Controversy

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Dominant groups tend to construct the meaning of places to justify and sustain their ideology and orthodoxy in order to solidify power and to maintain their control over others. New outsider groups whose ideology disrupts the established order and sovereignty of the dominant group can be labeled transgressive ( Sibley 1995; Cresswell 1996). Transgressions of hegemonic spaces force dominant groups to reexamine themselves and to reaffirm or to modify their position. This concept of transgression is used to examine the controversy surrounding the building of the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center in the mid-1980s in Jerusalem. The public outcry among some Israelis over the building of this educational edifice concerned the potential use of the Jerusalem Center as a focal point for Mormon (Latter-day Saints) proselytizing efforts. We examine the way the Jerusalem Center was viewed and depicted by its opponents, suggesting how basic geographic concepts such as scale and site further refine the concept of spatial transgression for buildings and urban redevelopment.
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Keywords: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Jerusalem; Mormons; transgression

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Waterloo

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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