The multi-dimensional entanglements of world religions with the movement of people is not a new phenomenon.
Susan Rudolph, one of the earliest sociologists to explore the transnationality of religion, notes that ‘that Sufi orders, Catholic missionaries and Buddhist monks carried words, experienced exchanges and created new communities across vast spaces before the concept of nation states was even created’. Even today, in what Castles describes as the ‘age of migration’, people carry their beliefs and forms of belonging to new areas of settlement, creating multi-layered ‘networks’ that cross geographic and political boarders. These ‘networks’ are no more evident than in migrant’s religious lives. Despite this prior to the 1990s scholarship, surrounding the interplay of migration and religious networks, remained somewhat fragmented only beginning to gain pace when the longstanding ‘secularisation thesis’, that is the belief that modernization would lead societies beyond the sacred to the secular, began to be discredited amongst academics.
Responding to Levitt’s call for ‘more empirically grounded research’ in the field, Dominic Pasura and Marta Erdal’s Migration, Transnationalism and Catholicism: Global Perspectives provides a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of how Catholic migrants use their religion to connect themselves with their homeland whilst simultaneously creating new spaces of religiosity completely unique to their new locality. Compiled into a twelve part edited collection, Pasura and Erdal move beyond binary approaches that see religion as either good or bad nor do they attempt to understand religion and migration from a security perspective. Instead, through a mix of theoretical and empirically driven essays, the study explores ‘religion as a practice…embodied in everyday life and people’. The collection is further structured into three distinct sections. The first section Exploring Inter-disciplinary Perspectives seeks to place Catholicism and the study of migration in a theological and historical framework, challenging previous bodies of work which explore religious networks solely from a sociological perspective.
The second and largest section Encounters, Differences and Transformations provides a number of empirically driven case-studies exploring the various ways migrants engage with their religious lives in their new settlements. The third and final section Negotiating Unity and Diversity seeks to explore the effects of migration on a macro level in the institutional church. All contributions to the collection take varying degrees of transnational levels of analysis but agree that research beyond the national narrative is vital in understanding the religious lives of migrants.