Liebelt, “Mama Mary”

Liebelt, Claudia. 2014. The “Mama Mary” of the White City’s Underside: Reflections on a Filipina Domestic Workers’ Block Rosary in Tel Aviv, Israel. In Migrant Domestic Workers in the Middle East: The Home and the World, edited by Bina Fernandez and Marina de Regt.  Pp: 95-116. New York: Palgrave. 

Excerpt: Each Friday, a loose network of Catholic migrant domestic workers, almost exclusively women from the Philippines, carries a figure of the Virgin Mary through the marginalized neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv, Israel. As the figure is carried from one participant’s home to another of this so-called block rosary, they believe “she” (the Virgin Mary) blesses these homes and the surrounding neighborhood, hears hundreds of the women’s petitions, creates a community of devotees, and performs miracles. Against the backdrop of the troubled neighborhood’s Friday night life and the turbulence of the devotees’ own lives, “Mama Mary,” as she is tenderly addressed, has come to stand for compassion, refuge, and protection. This chapter seeks to describe and analyze domestic workers’ Marian devotion in a complex Middle Eastern locale. In doing so, this chapter contributes to the literature on diaspora, gender, and religion and investigates ritual performance and processes of homemaking in the context of female migrants’ diasporic journeys and a gendered global economy based on the international division and feminization of labor, especially in the field of reproduction and care.

Formenti, “Going for God”

Formenti, Ambra. 2014. Going for God: Mobility, Place and Temporality among Evangelical Guineans in Lisbon. Doctoral Dissertation, Dept. of Anthropology. Lisbon, Portugal: University of Lisbon.

Abstract: In the last decades the intensification of migratory flows has led to a gradual pluralisation of urban religious landscapes in Europe. One of the most relevant aspects of this process is the spreading of Evangelical and Pentecostal churches founded by African migrants, a phenomenon that contributed to the emergence of new configurations of Christianity in Europe. The town of Lisbon (Portugal), a place where different experiences of spirituality and distinct worldviews meet and interact, is an emblematic case of religious encounter between deep-rooted Catholicism and imported forms of Christianity. This dissertation provides an ethnography of Guinean Evangelical Christianity in Lisbon, focusing on the case of the Missão Evangélica Lusófona (MEL), a church settled in the outskirts of Lisbon and attended mostly by migrants from Guinea-Bissau.

Taking the MEL as a case-study of African Churches in the diaspora, I try to describe
and analyse the centrality of religion in the lives of Evangelical Guinean migrants in Lisbon.
My central argument is that, in this context, religious faith appears as a way to make sense of the experiences of dislocation and re-location of believers. Accordingly, in the following
pages I portray MEL as an emblematic example of how Evangelical Christianity sustains
migrants in their transnational movements while concurringly enables them to create a sense of place in the localities in which they chose to dwell.

Furthermore, by examining the experiences and life stories of MEL’s members, I
address a series of issues, such as: the meaning of conversion for individuals and
communities; the connection between religious faith and the condition of stranger; the
relationship between global/universal and local/particular dimensions of religious identity; the ways in which religious actors appropriate and transform the urban space where they live in; the emergence and transformation of peculiar visions of space and time, including the ways how human groups produce their past, present and future.

Rey and Stepick, “Crossing the Water and Keeping the Faith”

Rey, Terry and Alex Stepick. 2013. Crossing the Water and Keeping the Faith: Haitian Religion in Miami. New York: NYU Press.

Publisher’s Description:

Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, significant numbers of Haitian immigrants began to arrive and settle in Miami. Overcoming some of the most foreboding obstacles ever to face immigrants in America, they, their children, and now their grandchildren, as well as more recently arriving immigrants from Haiti, have diversified socioeconomically. Together, they have made South Florida home to the largest population of native-born Haitians and diasporic Haitians outside of the Caribbean and one of the most significant Caribbean immigrant communities in the world. Religion has played a central role in making all of this happen.
Crossing the Water and Keeping the Faith is a historical and ethnographic study of Haitian religion in immigrant communities, based on fieldwork in both Miami and Haiti, as well as extensive archival research. Where many studies of Haitian religion limit themselves to one faith, Rey and Stepick explore Catholicism, Protestantism, and Vodou in conversation with one another, suggesting that despite the differences between these practices, the three faiths ultimately create a sense of unity, fulfillment, and self-worth in Haitian communities. This meticulously researched and vibrantly written book contributes to the growing body of literature on religion among new immigrants, as well as providing a rich exploration of Haitian faith communities.

Blanes, “Prophetic Visions of Europe”

Blanes, Ruy. 2013. Prophetic Visions of Europe: Rethinking Place and Belonging among Angola Christians in Lisbon. In Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe. Ruy Blanes and Jose Mapril, eds. 19-36. London: Brill.

Coleman and Maier, “Redeeming the city”

Coleman, Simon and Katrin Maier. 2013. Redeeming the city: creating and traversing ‘London-Lagos.’ Religion 43(3): 353-364.

Abstract: The authors focus on strategies and aesthetics of urban expansion in Lagos and London by members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. On the one hand, these two metropolises represent very different forms of urban governance and religious context. On the other, they are juxtaposed and conjoined in significant ways as believers seek to fulfill spiritual and economic aspirations. ‘London-Lagos’ becomes a stretched city space that is created but also traversed as members negotiate diasporic linkages in the remaking of their lives as both believers and urban citizens.

Silva and Rodrigues, “Brazilian Missionaries in Barcelona”

Silva, Marcos de Araujo and Donizete Rodrigues. 2013. Religion, Migration, and Gender Strategies: Brazilian (Catholic and Evangelical) Missionaries in Barcelona. Religion and Gender 3(1).

Abstract: This article reflects on gender strategies developed by Brazilian Pentecostal missionaries linked to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and the evangelical Universal Church of the Kingdom of God/United Family, in the city of Barcelona,Spain. From a comparative study of the daily life of the missionaries, the paper discusses how ‘feminized’ and ‘manly’ character, respectively, define important boundaries between Catholic charismatic and Evangelical groups.The ethnographic data demonstrate how certain religious particularities of immigrants can act as a source of social differentiation that highlights opportunities and specific doctrinal strategies for women and men, in the context of diaspora.

Hein, “The Semiotics of Diaspora”

Hein, Emily Jane Carter. 2013. The Semiotics of Diaspora: Language Ideologies and Coptic Orthodox Christianity in Berlin, Germany. Doctoral Dissertation, Dept. of Anthropology. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

Abstract: The dissertation is based on field research in Coptic Orthodox Church congregations in Germany, where Copts are living after emigration from Egypt. The data for the study are drawn from participant-observation, interviews, and recordings in these communities and include analysis of texts collected during fieldwork. The focus is on Copts’ ideologies of language in the diaspora, where their linguistic repertoires – Coptic (sacred language of religious texts), Arabic (most community members’ first language, spoken within the home or with other Copts), and German (language of the new location) – are being reconfigured. The dissertation has these main arguments: (1) in the liturgy and in its textual representations, the three languages are being interpreted as in a temporal progression, in which Arabic – devalued for its association with Islam and Arabs– is to be replaced by German, although there are some tensions surrounding this as yet incomplete process; (2) Copts are making a rhetorical effort, and (in effect) sociological project, to be identified with whites, Europe, and Christendom (seen as overlapping categories), thus evading German anti-immigrant prejudice and becoming part of the majority. This identification entails a semiotics of temporality as well, in the assertion that Christ came “out of Egypt” (as, more recently, did the Copts) – thus Egypt is to be included as the root domain of Christianity, rather than excluded from it because of its Muslim majority. This narrated past is part of Copts’ claim to inclusion in the (future) ecumene of Christianity. The author contends that the temporal progression implicit in the language shift in progress (1) can be seen as part of this wider semiotics of temporality (2). The present work contributes to debates on diaspora and the narrative construction of time and space. Its central themes of language ideologies, code repertoires, and textuality and performance are important topics in linguistic anthropology, the anthropology of Christianity and the anthropology of the Middle East and Europe. Detailing how Copts in the diaspora bring to life a dead language, while enthusiastically shifting to German, the dissertation is an ethnography of language contact and language shift.

Machoko, “Religion and Interconnection With Zimbabwe: A Case Study of Zimbabwean Diasporic Canadians”

Machoko, Collis Garikai. 2013. Religion and Interconnection With Zimbabwe: A Case Study of Zimbabwean Diasporic Canadians. Journal of Black Studies XX(X):1–24 (Early View).

Abstract: The author argues that the continuous connection between Zimbabwean Diasporic Canadians (ZDC) and their homeland Zimbabwe is facilitated by the ZDC’s ongoing relationship and involvement with Zimbabwean African Indigenous Religion (AIR) and Zimbabwean African Initiated Churches (AICs). The two spiritual institutions are used as vehicles to alleviate cultural and racial discrimination as well as the socioeconomic challenges faced by the ZDC. The methodologies of interviews and participant observation were used. Research indicates that ZDC maintain their ties with Zimbabwe through continued engagement with AIR and AIC, who establish and assert themselves as vehicles of interaction and interdependence between Zimbabwe and the ZDC. In addition to their religious preoccupation, these institutions also play an important economic and social role in the lives of the ZDC. The conclusion is that ZDC did not make a complete break with their homeland.

Garbin, “Visibility and Invisibility”

Garbin, David. 2013. The Visibility and Invisibility of Migrant Faith in the City: Diaspora Religion and the Politics of Emplacement of Afro-Christian Churches. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 39(5):677-696.

Abstract: In today’s post-industrial city, migrants and ethnic minorities are forming, through their religious practices, particular spaces of alterity, often at the ‘margin’ of the urban experience—for instance, in converting anonymous warehouses into places of worship. This paper examines diverse facets of the religious spatiality of Afro-Christian diasporic churches—from local emplacement to the more visible public parade of faith in the urban landscape. One of the aims is to explore to what extent particular spatial configurations and locations constitute ‘objective expression’ of social status and symbolic positionalities in the post-migration secular environment of the ‘host societies’. Without denying the impact of urban marginality, the paper shows how religious groups such as African Pentecostal and Prophetic churches are also engaged, in their own terms, in a transformative project of spatial appropriation, regeneration and re-enchantment of the urban landscape. The case study of the Congolese Kimbanguist Church in London and Atlanta also demonstrates the need to examine the articulation of local, transnational and global practices and imaginaries to understand how religious and ethnic identities are renegotiated in newly ‘localised’ diasporic settings.

Cao, “Renegotiating Locality and Morality”

Cao, Nanlai. 2013. Renegotiating Locality and Morality in a Chinese Religious Diaspora: Wenzhou Christian Merchants in Paris, France. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 14(1).

Abstract: This paper explores the social and economic implications of indigenous Christian discourses and practices in the Wenzhou Chinese diaspora in Paris, France. Popularly known as China’s Jerusalem, the coastal Chinese city of Wenzhou is home to thousands of self-started home-grown Protestant churches and a million Protestants. Drawing on multi-sited fieldwork, this study provides an ethnographic account of a group of Wenzhou merchants who have formed large Christian communities at home, along with migrant enclaves in Paris. The study shows how these migrant entrepreneurs and traders have brought their version of Christianity from China to France and how they perceive and deal with issues of illegality, moral contingency, native-place based loyalty and national belonging. It highlights the thoroughly intertwined relationship between an indigenised Chinese Christianity and the petty capitalist legacy of coastal southeast China in a secularised, exclusionary European context, and suggests that Christianity provides a form of non-market morality that serves to effectively legitimate Wenzhou’s pre-modern household economy in the context of market modernity.