Abstract: This article examines the rhetorical invocation of “secular ethnicity” among diasporic Syriac Orthodox Christian activists living in the Netherlands as they seek political recognition as an endangered, indigenous ethnoreligious group of the Middle East from the UN Human Rights Council, the Dutch state, and their local municipal government. In tracing how their efforts to stake a politically salient ethnic identity on the holy rites and rituals of the Syriac liturgical tradition are legible to some audiences while remaining illegible to others, I analyze how secularity intertwines with theologically informed ritual practices in geographically variable ways to shape how Syriac Christian kinship is reproduced in diaspora. I analyze these intertwined forms of legibility and illegibility through the notion of perforation, which I offer as an alternative to the one-dimensional metaphor of secular rupture, in order to show how diasporic Syriac Orthodox kinship is premised on the conviction that Christianity is an inherent, rather than an optional, dimension of human personhood. Ultimately, I argue that secular power and its effects are subsumed within other historical processes of division and reconciliation in a broader contest over the proper dispensation of political and ritual power throughout the history of Christianity.
Abstract: The contributors to Affective Trajectories examine the mutual and highly complex entwinements between religion and affect in urban Africa in the early twenty-first century. Drawing on ethnographic research throughout the continent and in African diasporic communities abroad, they trace the myriad ways religious ideas, practices, and materialities interact with affect to configure life in urban spaces. Whether examining the affective force of the built urban environment or how religious practices contribute to new forms of attachment, identification, and place-making, they illustrate the force of affect as it is shaped by temporality and spatiality in the religious lives of individuals and communities. Among other topics, they explore Masowe Apostolic Christianity in relation to experiences of displacement in Harare, Zimbabwe; Muslim identity, belonging, and the global ummah in Ghana; crime, emotions, and conversion to neo-Pentecostalism in Cape Town; and spiritual cleansing in a Congolese branch of a Japanese religious movement. In so doing, the contributors demonstrate how the social and material living conditions of African cities generate diverse affective forms of religious experiences in ways that foster both localized and transnational paths of emotional knowledge.
Abstract: After the introduction of the “long-term resident” visa, the mass-migration of Nikkeis (Japanese Brazilians) has led to roughly 190,000 Brazilian nationals living in Japan. While the ancestry-based visa confers Nikkeis’ right to settlement virtually as a right of blood, their ethnic ambiguity and working-class profile often prevent them from feeling at home in their supposed ethnic homeland. In response, many have converted to Pentecostalism, reflecting the explosive trend across Latin America since the 1970s. Jesus Loves Japan offers a rare window into lives at the crossroads of return migration and global Pentecostalism. Suma Ikeuchi argues that charismatic Christianity appeals to Nikkei migrants as a “third culture”—one that transcends ethno-national boundaries and offers a way out of a reality marked by stagnant national indifference. Jesus Loves Japan insightfully describes the political process of homecoming through the lens of religion, and the ubiquitous figure of the migrant as the pilgrim of a transnational future.
Abstract: This article attends to the central role of video and projection screens in transnational multisite churches based in South Korea. Drawing on field research in Seoul and in Los Angeles, this article illustrates how the relationship between congregants and the screens themselves is a condition for the emergence of a particular configuration of Christian community, which I will peirastically call “screen Christianity.” The place of screens and their related practices undergird theological conceptions of contact and community, such that screens are said to transmit healing touches and pastors are understood to be present through the proliferation of their screened image. Considering these Christian churches as engaging in screen Christianity highlights how particular material configurations animate these church bodies and ultimately make such transnational communities imaginable
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.
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.
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.
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.