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Full Access Religious Transnationalism: The case of Zimbabwean Catholics in Britain

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Religious Transnationalism: The case of Zimbabwean Catholics in Britain

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Abstract This article examines the ways in which mainstream churches engender migrants’ maintenance of transnational ties and improve their integration into British society. It uses the Zimbabwean Catholic congregation in Birmingham as a case study. The central thrust of this article is that African diaspora congregations have emerged as public spaces to construct transnational identities and provide alternative forms of belonging, and have reinvented themselves as agents of re-evangelization to the host society. In contrast to other transnational ties such as remittances and hometown associations whose activities are orientated toward the homeland, reverse evangelization embodies the giving out of something to the host society. It is the awareness and ability to influence and shape the face of Christianity in Britain that gives African Christian migrants the agency to participate in other aspects of British society, providing an alternative path to integration. As the article argues, religious identities among Zimbabwean migrants should be seen not just as a religious phenomenon but also as markers of cultural difference from the host society, which constructs them as ‘other’.

Affiliations: 1: School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield Queensgate, Huddersfield, HD1 3DH d.pasura@hud.ac.uk

10.1163/157006612X629069
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Abstract This article examines the ways in which mainstream churches engender migrants’ maintenance of transnational ties and improve their integration into British society. It uses the Zimbabwean Catholic congregation in Birmingham as a case study. The central thrust of this article is that African diaspora congregations have emerged as public spaces to construct transnational identities and provide alternative forms of belonging, and have reinvented themselves as agents of re-evangelization to the host society. In contrast to other transnational ties such as remittances and hometown associations whose activities are orientated toward the homeland, reverse evangelization embodies the giving out of something to the host society. It is the awareness and ability to influence and shape the face of Christianity in Britain that gives African Christian migrants the agency to participate in other aspects of British society, providing an alternative path to integration. As the article argues, religious identities among Zimbabwean migrants should be seen not just as a religious phenomenon but also as markers of cultural difference from the host society, which constructs them as ‘other’.

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2012-01-01
2016-12-04

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