Clear-Cut Analysis of the Interplay of Religion and Migration


Clear-Cut Analysis of the Interplay of Religion and Migration

In conversation with Martin Baumann (left) and Alexander-Kenneth Nagel (right)

The title of your book brings together the two terms ‘religion’ and ‘migration’. How is that important?

“Migrants bring their religious practices and ideas with them, in addition to professional training. This aspect is often overlooked, especially in social science research on migration. Yet migration has historically and currently contributed decisively to the religious pluralization of many host countries. The new diversity of religions repeatedly leads to inquiries and uncertainty, so that there is a need for information and clarification. The book shows in a systematic perspective on the individual, the group and the nation-state level, which social changes accompany immigration and how religious attitudes and practices of migrants change. And it addresses in more applied chapters, for example, debates about newly constructed religious edifices and the opportunities and conflicts associated with them. We argue that in the contemporary migration society, religious literacy is needed to deal productively with religious diversity.”

Can the interrelationship of religion and migration be briefly described?

“Migration has brought many religions to new countries and states. Especially in the historically religiously rather homogeneous countries of Europe, migration processes have led to a pluralization of religious views and practices. On the other hand, religion is an important support for many migrants, as religious communities offer them emotional security, social support and confidence. This can help them gain a foothold in their new country and integrate socially and professionally. In other cases, immigrants may question their religion of origin more, shift it into the private sphere, or even abandon it altogether. Over time, migrants’ religious views and practices adapt to country-specific forms and patterns. In this respect, migration has been and continues to be an important factor in religious change and innovation.”

Can you give a successful example of integration and religious pluralism?

“A good example is the connection between mosque construction projects and interreligious activism. Since representative mosques (but also, for example, Hindu temples) always have to contend with reservations in parts of urban society, interreligious round tables or other initiatives are often founded during the planning and construction process. The building project thus provides the impetus for constructive civil society debate and the cultivation of religious diversity. The initiatives are not only forums of interreligious solidarity, but can also contribute to the resolution and prevention of conflicts in the district. In addition, representative sacred buildings serve as visible points of contact and thus become bridges between religious migrant organizations and urban society. In the logic of our volume, the aspects of sacred building, interreligious dialogue, social participation, and religious competence are combined here.”