[URBANTH-L]AAA CFP: Religion and Spirituality in Immigrant Lives

James B. Beard beardja at berkeley.edu
Tue Feb 24 11:16:12 EST 2009

Paper proposals are invited for the panel, "Religion and Spirituality in
Immigrant Lives" for the American Anthropological Association's Meetings
in 2009.

The AAA’s 2009 theme of “The End/s of Anthropology” asks us to contemplate
the continued relevance of our field in an era of blurred boundaries
between disciplines and methodologies; the study of migration offers one
area in which anthropology continues to offer unique insights.  Statistics
and demographics, maps, charts and diagrams are extremely important to
understanding immigration, but without participant observation, a vital
part is missing.  Ethnography offers a concept of the lived experience of
individuals and families, an on-the-ground understanding of the complex
dialectics between host cultures and immigrant groups, and the opportunity
to bring statistically negligible but qualitatively rich information into
debates that affect people’s lives.  At the same time, the ends of
anthropology are well served by offering a broader public discourse and
helping to humanize the Other in academic and public fora.

At the junctures of immigrant and religious communities lie opportunities
for such investigationsand an understanding of the ways that beliefs and
practices can facilitate integration into host communities, and join
scattered immigrant groups into larger and more cohesive units. This
session seeks to explore the religious groupings and spiritual ideas of
immigrants in a variety of national and political contexts in order to
provide new comparisons and contrasts across ideological, political and
historical frontiers.

*** Does membership in the host country’s dominant faith, and attendance
alongside host country nationals facilitate assimilation and/or
integration into the host society?  What factors problematize this?

*** Do immigrant churches, mosques and temples create additional barriers
to acceptance of immigrants by the host community?  Do they create
communities of worship alone, or do they forge opportunities for social,
economic or other support?

*** How do groups of immigrants transform the spiritual terrain of their
host country?

*** How will future fluctuations in immigration and and popular
perceptions of its effects impact, or be impacted by, immigrants’
religious and spiritual beliefs and practices?

*** How can anthropology contribute to public discourses on immigration
and the policies that result from such debates?

This panel seeks to better understand a multiplicity of experiences,
through discussion of diverse immigrant groups, whose host countries are
on several continents and whose beliefs are varied.  Abstracts must be
received by March 13, 2009.  Please send them to: beardja at berkeley.edu

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