Redefining the Boundaries of Belonging: Thoughts on Transnational Religious and Political Life (Working Paper #48)

Peggy Levitt, Wellesley College

Abstract: Many aspects of religious life have long been global. Contemporary migrants extend and deepen these cross-border ties by transnationalizing everyday religious practice. Instead of severing their connections to their homelands, increasing numbers of migrants remain strongly connected to their countries of origin at the same time as they become integrated into the countries that receive them. While some “keep feet in two worlds” by earning their livelihoods or supporting political candidates across borders, other migrants do so by belonging to transnational religious organizations and movements, therefore expanding already global religious institutions and allowing them to belong in two places. Based on a study of transnational migration to six immigrant neighborhoods in the Boston metropolitan area, this presentation will examine how transnational religious membership intersects with other forms of transnational belonging. In what ways does migrant incorporation into host countries or migrants’ impact on their countries of origin change when they remain connected through churches rather than political groups?

Working Paper #48»