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MigMob-workshop: The institutionalization of religion among migrants

2017.09.06 | Nynne Visbo-Bomose

Date Thu 23 Nov
Time 10:15 16:00
Location Building 1485 - Room 226, Nobelparken, Campus Aarhus

Organized by: Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger, The Department of the Study of Religion, MF@cas.au.dk

The institutionalization of religion among migrants in Europe and USA is emphasized in many contemporary studies of religion. This scrutinizes not only a decisive shift of religious observance and religious practice from the home to the religious, institution but also from the families to the “priests”.

This one-day seminar will invite researchers to give examples of this process among different migrant groups and describe what kind of impact this process has on the migrants’ understanding of religion and religious identity as well as on the role of the religious authorities.

When it comes to the role of the religious institution, we also welcome papers with focus on how the religious and ritual practices affect the migrants’ understanding of belonging and well-being. We also invite papers addressing possible push and pull factors, including internal and external strategies, the impact of the policy makers, policy making and the society as such.

At the same time, this call would like to widen out the theoretical and empirical prism and include all kinds of organization practices when it comes to migrant religion (explicit and implicit). This includes schools, cultural groups, football clubs, etcetera.

To give a perspective from Norway, it is a pleasure that Anne Sigfrid Grønseth, Professor in Social Anthropology at Lillehammer University College, has accepted to give a keynote lecture with the following tentative title: Religious and Ritual practices: Mobilities in Belonging, Well-being and Identity.

Keynote lecture by Anne Sigfrid Grønseth, Professor in Social Anthropology at Lillehammer University College.


10.15-10.20: Presentation by Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger

10.20-11.15: Ann-Sigfrid Grønseth Keynote

11.15-11.30: Break

11.30-12.00: Lene Kühle og Malik Larsen.

12.00-12.30: Mikkel Rytter

12.30-13.30: Lunch

13.30-14.00: Sara Lei Sparre

14.00-14.30: Jørn Borup

14.30-15.00: Marianne Fibiger

15.00-15.30: Common discussion possibly based on keywords, gathered by the students

15.30-: Reception



Anne Sigfrid Grønseth

Religious and Ritual practices: Mobilities in Belonging, Wellbeing and Identity

Since religion is a global societal system operating transnationally, it is important to examine how migrants use ritual practices and religious institutions to live their migration and transnational lives. In this paper I focus on how migrants’ senses of religion and ritual practices create and form identity, belonging and wellbeing as it takes form in an interplay between global and local contexts. The unobservable dimensions of religious life have often been given little attention because the analytical tools we have to study them are undeveloped and undervalued. Since many features of religious life are emotional, imaginative, sensoric and embodied they are often deeply felt but difficult to express in words. Thus, I suggest a need to address also the un-spoken and tacit, the performative and embodied experiences in our attempts to understand how identity and belonging are redefined in transnational migrant global and local contexts.


Lene Kühle and Malik Larsen

Muslims in Denmark

Muslims have been settling and living in Denmark during more than 50 years. The question of religious authority has been at the centre of discussions for several years: The need for imams that speak the language of the young both literately and metaphorically and the need for strong Islamic knowledge. Recently a new generation of religious authorities are being formed. We’ll discuss the characteristics and impact of these and how their role may be in regard to the institutionalisation of mosques in Denmark.


Mikkel Rytter

Infrastructures of Sufism

The paper suggests ‘infrastructure’ as a concept that can illuminate temporal, organizational and personal aspects of the settlement and success in Denmark of the Sufi tariqa (path) called Naqshbandi Mujaddidi Saifi, that currently has its centre in Pakistan. In the paper, I discuss the importance of temporal and spatial networks, rituals and charisma.


Sara Lei Sparre

The sense of belonging through ritual among Middle Eastern Christians in Denmark

This paper investigates how two Middle Eastern Christian churches in Denmark are constructed as particular sensorial spaces that invite attendees to participate in and identify with specific times and spaces. Based on findings from fieldwork carried out in 2014-2015, it examines constructions of religious identity and belonging through ritual practices. I argue that in various ways, the ritual forms a performative space for memory and belonging which, through bodily practices and engagement with the materialities of the church rooms, creates a memory that reconnects the practitioners with places elsewhere. More specifically, the Sunday ritual facilitates the connection with God and the eternal, a place and time with fellow believers, and a relocation to remember and re-enter a pre-migration past and ‘homeland’.


Jørgen Borup

The value and pitfall of cultural and religious accommodation

Migration and transnational transfigurations of religion involve the migrants but also their countries of origin as well as their new host cultures. Some migrants cling to their ideas of traditional culture and religion, but most will realize that religious values and practices inevitably change in new contexts. The ideological culture of the host countries shape these, but also individual choices and the institutional setup of the religious traditions are actively co-constructing and re-inventing the frames of diaspora religion. This paper discusses the migration and accommodation processes of two different diaspora cases: Japanese in Hawaii and Vietnamese in Denmark. The institutional accommodation strategies is analyzed, and it is discussed to what extent positive cultural and religious integration is a positive factor in the overall survival of the religious traditions.


​Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger

The Hindu temples in Denmark and their multiple functions

  “Do not live in a village where there is no temple”. This is an old Tamil Hindu saying, quoted by an old Tamil man for me when the first Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu temple in Denmark was consecrated. He further explained that the Hindu gods now had access to Denmark, they can now  manifest themselves through the statues and he can get a darśan (sight) of them.  Young second generation of Tamils also find the temples important but more as a place where to meet, and as a storing place for tradition. This paper will try to give an overview of Hindu temples in Denmark and discuss its multiple functions.    

CAS, Antropologi, Religionsvidenskab