Believing In Place: A Spiritual Geography Of The Great Basin

Front Cover
University of Nevada Press, 2003 - 289 pages

The austere landscape of the Great Basin has inspired diverse responses from the people who have moved through or settled in it. Author Richard V. Francaviglia is interested in the connection between environment and spirituality in the Great Basin, for here, he says, "faith and landscape conspire to resurrect old myths and create new ones." As a geographer, Francaviglia knows that place means more than physical space. Human perceptions and interpretations are what give place its meaning. In Believing in Place, he examines the varying human perceptions of and relationships with the Great Basin landscape, from the region's Native American groups to contemporary tourists and politicians, to determine the spiritual issues that have shaped our connections with this place. In doing so, he considers the creation and flood myths of several cultures, the impact of the Judeo-Christian tradition and individualism, Native American animism and shamanist traditions, the Mormon landscape, the spiritual dimensions of gambling, the religious foundations of Cold War ideology, stories of UFOs and alien presence, and the convergence of science and spirituality.

Believing in Place is a profound and totally engaging reflection on the ways that human needs and spiritual traditions can shape our perceptions of the land. That the Great Basin has inspired such a complex variety of responses is partly due to its enigmatic vastness and isolation, partly to the remarkable range of peoples who have found themselves in the region. Using not only the materials of traditional geography but folklore, anthropology, Native American and Euro-American religion, contemporary politics, and New Age philosophies, Francaviglia has produced a fascinating and timely investigation of the role of human conceptions of place in that space we call the Great Basin.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Landscape and Storytelling
Darkness and Light
Water and Memory
Stories in Stone
Encounters with the Wind
In Search of the Great Spirit
Chosen People Chosen Land
Vanishing Cities of Zion
Pilgrimages to Babylon
Landscapes of Armageddon
Into Sacred Spaces
Believing in Place

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)

Richard V. Francaviglia is professor of history and geography and director of the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies and the History of Cartography at the University of Texas in Arlington. As both historian and geographer, he is especially interested in the way places change through time, and how that change is depicted in maps, literature, art, and popular culture. His administrative interests include working with university faculty and staff to develop proposals, and to secure outside funding, for innovative educational programs.

Francaviglia received his A.A. from Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, California with highest honors (1965), B.A. from University of California at Riverside with high honors (1967), and M.A. and Ph.D. (1970) from the University of Oregon (Geography major, Art History minor). He taught at the University of Minnesota, Antioch College, University of Arizona, and Wittenberg University, and is currently a Professor of History and Geography at the University of Texas at Arlington. He teaches courses in historical geography, the history of cartography, environmental history, geography of the West, historical methods, public history, history and film, and natural history images and scientific illustration. His research interests Include the role of maps and natural history illustrations in the history of discoveries; the ways in which environments are shaped by individuals, corporations, and religious groups; mining and transportation history; cartographic history; the history of geology, geomorphology, and mineralogy.

Bibliographic information