Special Issue "Religion and Refugee: Interdisciplinary Discussions on Transformative Humane-Divine Interactions"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 April 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Jin-Heon Jung
Website
Guest Editor
Research Professor, Institute of Korean Studies, Freie Universtaet Berlin, Fabeckstrasse 7, 14195 Berlin, Germany
Interests: Christianity/religions; nationalism; refugee; human rights; multiculturalism; global capitalism; public anthropology
Dr. Alexander Horstmann
Website
Guest Editor
Associate Professor, School for Humanities, Tallinn University, Estonia
Interests: the study of religious and ethnic diversity in Southeast Asia and in a comparative perspective, Theravada Buddhism, Christianity (especially Pentecostalism and Charismatic Movements), autochthonous religion (spirit beliefs), modernity, violence, and border régimes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue invites scholars and practitioners for interdisciplinary discussions about the multilayered roles and efficacies of religion over the course and in the context of refugee-migrants’ life trajectories. Intellectually innovative essays on either the relatively recent refugee crisis or rather long-term phenomena among refugee-diaspora communities in any continents are all welcome. Selected papers should demonstrate interdisciplinary approaches and comparative perspectives primarily based on empirical research on the transformative interactions with the divine in refugee camps, among refugee-migrant individuals and social movements, religious institutions and networks, and (inter)national organizations. In particular, contributors are encouraged to shed light on the ways religious mobilizations and religious strategies of place-making help refugees recover and reconstruct their lives in exile during periods of loss. Papers should provide critical reflections on the ongoing tensions between the secular and the sacred, the national and the transnational, security and humanity, and etc. Further, this special issue wants to examine the moral, imaginative, and utopian forces in the flows of the displaced through the lens of religion that exhibits a transformative power for people interacting with each other in terms of hospitality, self-help and healing. As such, our contributions should encompass the secular and sacred obstacles and aspirations that the refugee individuals’ experience and envision through their life trajectories. We believe that this open-ended proposal will inspire promising and established scholars, field practitioners, and refugee actors to raise their voices for long-term mutual goals to negotiate in religious terms. Ultimately, this special issue aims to cumulatively effect a paradigm shift in the approaches, perspectives, and practices on the potentials and limits of divine and humane interactions in the studies of refugee and religion.

Dr. Jin-Heon Jung
Dr. Alexander Horstmann
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access journal published by MDPI.

Keywords

  • refugee
  • religion
  • Interdisciplinary approaches
  • transformative humane-divine interactions
  • paradigm shift

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Crossing and Conversion among North Korean Refugee-Migrants
Religions 2020, 11(10), 510; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11100510 - 09 Oct 2020
Abstract
While pivotal in the lives of North Korean refugee-migrants, the role of religion has been largely neglected in most studies. After being exposed to Protestant missionary networks, either while dwelling in Northeast China or en route to the South, about 80 percent of [...] Read more.
While pivotal in the lives of North Korean refugee-migrants, the role of religion has been largely neglected in most studies. After being exposed to Protestant missionary networks, either while dwelling in Northeast China or en route to the South, about 80 percent of North Korean refugee-migrants arriving in South Korea affiliate themselves with Protestant churches. This implies that they are exposed to Protestant missionary networks either while dwelling in Northeast China or en route to the South. Some who leave South Korea for other countries or seek asylum in non-Korean societies develop their religiosity in various ways and for various reasons, as part of their aspirations, adjustment to new homes, and search for meaning. The present study aims to address this literature gap. Based on long-term ethnographic research with North Korean refugee-migrants living in South Korea, China, and Europe, the two ethnographic vignettes presented in this article represent those who are in Germany and the United Kingdom by discussing the religious encounters and conversions through which North Korean refugee-migrants make their lives and futures. It draws attention to religion as a lens through which the migrants’ negotiation of meanings, new selves and homelands, and hopes for the future can be better illuminated. The findings of this study suggest that when North Korean Christians experience religious conversion during their perilous journeys, it not only helps them to negotiate a new sense of belonging in their host societies, but it also mobilizes them to contest the existing order of things. Full article
Open AccessArticle
An American Hero: Faith-Based Emergency Health Care in Karen State, Myanmar and Beyond
Religions 2019, 10(9), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090503 - 26 Aug 2019
Abstract
This article examines the vastly expanded mobility of displaced Karen villagers in the evangelical humanitarian movement, the Free Burma Rangers. This builds on ethnographic fieldwork on humanitarian cultures in the Thai-Burmese borderlands conducted since 2007 with a Thai research team and funded by [...] Read more.
This article examines the vastly expanded mobility of displaced Karen villagers in the evangelical humanitarian movement, the Free Burma Rangers. This builds on ethnographic fieldwork on humanitarian cultures in the Thai-Burmese borderlands conducted since 2007 with a Thai research team and funded by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious Diversity. While refugees are too often presented as victims, the article argues that by joining the mission, the Karen freedom fighters become ambassadors of a political ideology and evangelism. Bringing Christianity with them from their displaced homes, displaced Karen meet the evangelical humanitarian organization in the Karen hills or in the Thai refugee camps, train with them, and supply the villagers left behind with emergency health care and religious messages. Sponsored by American evangelical churches, the US military, and resettled Karen communities in the West, the freedom fighters of the Free Burma Rangers mobilize people and resources all over the globe. Recently, they have expanded their operations beyond Myanmar to places as far as Syria, Iraq and South Sudan, thus getting involved in what it presents as a global struggle between good and evil. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Travel as hicret: (Re)Framing Experiences of Exile in the Gülen Community in Brazil
Religions 2019, 10(5), 303; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050303 - 01 May 2019
Abstract
This article analyzes how members of the Gülen community in Brazil have mobilized the Islamic tradition in order to make reason of critical changes in their lives, since July 2016 failed coup in Turkey. This community is part of the Gülen Movement, a [...] Read more.
This article analyzes how members of the Gülen community in Brazil have mobilized the Islamic tradition in order to make reason of critical changes in their lives, since July 2016 failed coup in Turkey. This community is part of the Gülen Movement, a transnational Turkish Islamic network that operates mainly through educational and cultural activities. The Movement’s charismatic religious leader, Fethullah Gülen, was held responsible for the failed putsch and its participants have since been persecuted by the Turkish government both at home and abroad. The article shows how Gülen’s discursive articulation of the notions of hizmet (religious service) and hicret has been mobilized by his followers settled in Brazil as an Islamic framework that provides them with moral reasoning to carry on in what they define as the Prophet’s path. It also shows that changes in economic and political context may lead to different motivations and objectives in one’s trajectory, producing a reconfiguration of meanings related to travel, migration and diaspora. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Politics of Christian Love: Shaping Everyday Social Interaction and Political Sensibilities among Coptic Egyptians
Religions 2019, 10(2), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020105 - 12 Feb 2019
Abstract
Christian love has historically been subject of extensive theological study but has rarely been studied within anthropology. Contemporary Coptic society receives growing attention over the last two decades as a minority in Egyptian Muslim majority society. An important bulk of this scholarship involves [...] Read more.
Christian love has historically been subject of extensive theological study but has rarely been studied within anthropology. Contemporary Coptic society receives growing attention over the last two decades as a minority in Egyptian Muslim majority society. An important bulk of this scholarship involves a discussion of the community’s sometimes self-defined and sometimes ascribed characterization as a persecuted minority. Particular attention has gone to how social and political dimensions of minority life lead to changes in Christian theological understandings. This paper builds on these insights and examines how Christian love is experienced, and shapes feelings of belonging, everyday morality and political sensibilities vis-à-vis Muslim majority society. It draws from ethnographic observations and meetings with Copts living in Egypt between 2014–2017. It focuses on three personal narratives that reveal the complex ways in which a theology of love affects social and political stances. An anthropological focus reveals the fluid boundaries between secular and religious expressions of Christian love. Love for God and for humans are seen as partaking in one divine love. Practicing this love, however, shapes very different responses and can lead to what has been described as Coptic ‘passive victim behaviour’, but also to political activity against the status-quo. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Holy Mothers in the Vietnamese Diaspora: Refugees, Community, and Nation
Religions 2018, 9(8), 233; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9080233 - 27 Jul 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Holy mothers, specifically the Vietnamese-looking Our Lady of Lavang and Caodai Mother Goddess, are the crucibles of faith for many Vietnamese Catholics and Caodaists. Based on ethnographic data collected in California, which has the largest overseas Vietnamese population, I argue that Vietnamese refugees [...] Read more.
Holy mothers, specifically the Vietnamese-looking Our Lady of Lavang and Caodai Mother Goddess, are the crucibles of faith for many Vietnamese Catholics and Caodaists. Based on ethnographic data collected in California, which has the largest overseas Vietnamese population, I argue that Vietnamese refugees and their US-reared descendants have been able to re-centralize their fragmented communities through the innovative adaptation of holy mother worship. In particular, Vietnamese Catholics in the US have transformed the European image of Our Lady of Lavang into a Vietnamese woman and exported it to the rest of the world. Meanwhile, Vietnamese American Caodaists have revived traditional religious rituals for the Caodai Mother Goddess which were repressed and prohibited for many years under communism in Vietnam. Through their shared devotion to holy mothers, these Vietnamese American faithful have also rebuilt relations with co-ethnic co-religionists living throughout the world. For both the Vietnamese Catholic and Caodai groups, holy mothers have emerged as emblems of their deterritorialized nation in the diaspora. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Vernacular Politics, Sectarianism, and National Identity among Syrian Refugees in Jordan
Religions 2018, 9(7), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070225 - 23 Jul 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
In Jordan—home to some one million Syrian refugees—the vital roles played by vernacular politics, discourses of inclusion and exclusion, and sectarian social histories for Syrians are often considered unimportant when examining possibilities for integration or coexistence. Based on ethnographic research and participation in [...] Read more.
In Jordan—home to some one million Syrian refugees—the vital roles played by vernacular politics, discourses of inclusion and exclusion, and sectarian social histories for Syrians are often considered unimportant when examining possibilities for integration or coexistence. Based on ethnographic research and participation in women’s religion classes in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan in 2014, I argue that while sectarian identities may not in and of themselves appear to divide the majority of Syrian refugees in Jordan from the majority of Jordanian residents (as Sunni Muslims), through utilizing a vernacular politics theoretical perspective I reveal that the sectarian orientations and localized histories of Syrian refugees have an understudied potential to create new forms of divisiveness in Jordanian society. To dismiss any concerns raised, Jordanians reinforce the idea that sectarian discourses, in an objectified sense, are not welcome in Jordan, and that they are even—as a few asserted—“against Islam”. These differing national experiences with vernacular politics expressed in sectarian terms prompt Jordanians to reinforce the narrative that Jordan is free of such divisions, and will continue to remain so. This paper concludes by discussing the implications for national–transnational tensions. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Quaker Sanctuary Tradition
Religions 2018, 9(5), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050155 - 10 May 2018
Abstract
In the beginning of the Religious Society of Friends, in the seventeenth century, Quakers sought sanctuary from persecution in England and its American colonies. Later they provided sanctuary to people fleeing persecution, slavery, and war in many countries. They base their humanitarian efforts [...] Read more.
In the beginning of the Religious Society of Friends, in the seventeenth century, Quakers sought sanctuary from persecution in England and its American colonies. Later they provided sanctuary to people fleeing persecution, slavery, and war in many countries. They base their humanitarian efforts on five Testimonies and their core beliefs in the inner light of God in every person and the primacy of individual conscience. Often their sanctuary activities have led them into conflict with repressive governments and religious authorities. Their relief work with refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants, sometimes under dangerous conditions, earned them the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947. Despite their small numbers, Quakers have continued to play leadership roles in humanitarian initiatives up to the present day. Their sanctuary tradition has now flourished for more than 350 years. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Multi-Layered Roles of Religion among Refugees Arriving in Austria around 2015
Religions 2018, 9(5), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050154 - 10 May 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Violent conflicts and social unrest in the Middle East, in Central Asia, and in Africa have led to growing numbers of persons seeking refuge in Europe since 2011. The phenomenon culminated in 2015. In that year, with 88,300 new asylum applications, Austria was [...] Read more.
Violent conflicts and social unrest in the Middle East, in Central Asia, and in Africa have led to growing numbers of persons seeking refuge in Europe since 2011. The phenomenon culminated in 2015. In that year, with 88,300 new asylum applications, Austria was the 4th largest receiver of asylum seekers in the EU, thereby increasing visibly religious diversity in the country. Using two social surveys carried out in 2015 and in 2017 among asylum seekers and refugees, we study religious affiliation, religiosity, and attitudes as well as participation in religious groups. By focusing on the time span shortly after arriving in Austria, we aim to shed light on first steps in the host society and the multi-layered roles of religion for participation and integration. We provide a comparison with the host society in terms of religious affiliation and religiosity, and discuss recent qualitative research on refugees and religiosity. Insights into the engagement of refugees in several activities related to religion or not are valuable to shed light on the multi-layered characteristics of the recent inflow of forced migrants in Austria. Full article
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