Gatherings In Diaspora

Gatherings In Diaspora: Religious Communities and the New Immigration

R. Stephen Warner
Judith G. Wittner
Copyright Date: 1998
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    Gatherings In Diaspora
    Book Description:

    Gatherings in Diasporabrings together the latest chapters in the long-running chronicle of religion and immigration in the American experience. Today, as in the past, people migrating to the United States bring their religions with them, and their religious identities often mean more to them away from home, in their diaspora, than they did before.This book explores and analyzes the diverse religious communities of post-1965 diasporas: Christians, Hews, Muslims, Hindus, Rastafarians, and practitioners of Vodou, from countries such as China, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Iran, Jamaica, Korea, and Mexico. The contributors explore how, to a greater or lesser extent, immigrants and their offspring adapt their religious institutions to American conditions, often interacting with religious communities already established. The religious institutions they build, adapt, remodel, and adopt become worlds unto themselves, congregations, where new relations are forged within the community -- between men and women, parents and children, recent arrival and those longer settled.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0152-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction

    • Introduction Immigration and Religious Communities in the United States
      (pp. 3-34)
      R. Stephen Warner

      Gatherings in Diasporabrings together the latest chapters in the long-running chronicle of religion and immigration in the American experience. Today, as in the past, people migrating to the United States bring their religions with them, and gathering religiously is one of the ways they make a life here. Their religious identities often (but not always) mean more to them away from home, in their diaspora, than they did before, and those identities undergo more or less modification as the years pass. To a greater or lesser extent, immigrants and their offspring adapt their religious institutions to American conditions, and...

  4. I Religion and the Negotiation of Identities

    • I Becoming American by Becoming Hindu: Indian Americans Take Their Place at the Multicultural Table
      (pp. 37-70)
      Prema Kurien

      How to “fit in” but still maintain one’s cultural and personal integrity is the challenge that most immigrants in the United States face in their transition from immigrants to ethnics. Indian immigrants from a Hindu background have achieved this end by using Hinduism, albiet a Hinduism that has been recast and reformulated to make this transition possible. Religion has conventionally defined and sustained ethnic life in this country, and thus while “becoming Hindu” may on the surface appear to be the antithesis of “becoming American,” these Indian immigrants have made the transition from sojourners to citizens by developing a Hindu...

    • 2 From the Rivers of Babylon to the Valleys of Los Angeles: The Exodus and Adaptation of Iranian Jews
      (pp. 71-94)
      Shoshanah Feher

      On June 9, 1995, a group of young Iranians went to see a movie in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley. As they left the theater, one of the youths, a sixteen-year-old Jewish Iranian, was shot and killed by two African American gang members who were driving past. His friends recognized a few Iranian girls in the car with the gang members. The incident shook the Los Angeles Iranian Jewish community; more than two thousand mourners attended the memorial service.

      Ramtin Shaoulian’s death was a turning point for Los Angeles’s Iranian Jews because it forced the community to come to terms...

  5. II Transnational Migrants and Religious Hosts

    • 3 Santa Eulalia’s People in Exile: Maya Religion, Culture, and Identity in Los Angeles
      (pp. 97-122)
      Nancy J. Wellmeier

      Lucax Xuxep’s¹ home is a typical California-style bungalow. It is also typical of new Central American immigrant households in that it is home to fourteen people, including Lucax’s immediate family of six, two brothers-in-law, an adult niece and a nephew, and an unrelated family of three. None of this was likely to surprise me as I began my research by ringing the bell at the front door. But nothing could prepare me for the time-space machine that greeted me as I stepped into the large living room. The entire area was filled with the native Guatemalan instrument known as a...

    • 4 The Madonna of 115th Street Revisited: Vodou and Haitian Catholicism in the Age of Transnationalism
      (pp. 123-160)
      Elizabeth McAlister

      Every year on the fifteenth of July, the tall, wrought-iron gates of the big, brick Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Harlem swing open to welcome thousands of religious pilgrims. Women and men, children and the elderly, throng to the church for evening Mass, after which they follow a larger-than-life statue of the Virgin Mary through the New York City streets in a long, night-time procession. After a midnight Mass they spend the night in the church, or go home and come back early the next day, dressed in the Madonna’s colors of blue and white and...

  6. III Institutional Adaptations

    • 5 Born Again in East LA: The Congregation as Border Space
      (pp. 163-196)
      Luis León

      Over the past ten years, the movement of Latino Catholics to forms of evangelical/pentecostal or “born-again” religion has captured the attention of scholars and journalists who are interested in the configuration and active reconfiguration of religion in the Americas (Deck 1994, Leon 1994, Stoll 1990, Stoll and Garrard-Burnett 1993, Suro 1989). Over the past thirty years, the once impenetrable walls of Catholicism in Central and South America have been shaken by waves of evangelical conversion, and now “nearly ten percent or more of the Latin American population identifies itself asevangelico,with the percentage substantially higher in Brazil, Chile, and...

    • 6 The House That Rasta Built: Church-Building and Fundamentalism Among New York Rastafarians
      (pp. 197-234)
      Randal L. Hepner

      The Church of Haile Selassie I (CHSI) is one of a dozen or more formally organized Rastafari “Mansions”¹ active in New York City. It is a small but growing congregation composed predominantly of first-generation Jamaican immigrants and their children together with immigrants from other Anglophone countries of the West Indies as well as a smaller number of African American members and white sympathizers. In size it is dwarfed by the larger Rastafari churches such as the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Queens), the Nyabinghi Order of Divine Theocracy (Brooklyn), and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (Bronx). However, what it lacks in size...

    • 7 Structural Adaptations in an Immigrant Muslim Congregation in New York
      (pp. 235-262)
      Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf

      How have immigrant Muslim peoples carried on their religious faith and traditions in the context of a predominantly Christian America? What structural changes accompany an immigrant mosque’s adaptation to this doubly alien environment? This chapter explores these questions through the examination of an immigrant Muslim mosque that I call the Islamic Mission in Brooklyn, New York. The Mission, one of the oldest immigrant mosques in the United States, has experienced significant changes in its ethnic membership as well as in its organizational structure, and thus offers a unique opportunity to study how Islamic religious practices are institutionalized through a dynamic...

  7. IV Internal Differentiation

    • 8 Caroling with the Keralites: The Negotiation of Gendered Space in an Indian Immigrant Church
      (pp. 265-294)
      Sheba George

      The change of seasons was in full swing that early November, heralding the fast-approaching Advent season in the church. The priest’s announcements at the end of the service for the first Sunday in November included an invitation for those interested to participate in the church’s Christmas caroling party. I had been attending the church as a visiting researcher only since June, and I was unfamiliar with their practice of caroling. I turned to Anna, sitting next to me, to ask if she were going caroling. She smiled and replied that she would like to go but that it was only...

    • 9 Competing for the Second Generation: English-Language Ministry at a Korean Protestant Church
      (pp. 295-332)
      Karen J. Chai

      On August 22, 1986, I first walked into the small library of the church described above. Dragged kicking and screaming to Friday-night Bible study at this Korean church by my parents, my seventeen-year-old Americanized self was horrified to find thirty people, mostly in their mid-twenties, singing a gospel song inKorean.My parents, eager to lessen their anxiety about their daughter going away to college, had hoped that this church would connect me to a caring Korean community. Unfortunately, there were only two other college students in attendance, and unlike myself, it seemed that all of the members had spent...

    • 10 Tenacious Unity in a Contentious Community: Cultural and Religious Dynamics in a Chinese Christian Church
      (pp. 333-362)
      Fenggang Yang

      Unity is an appealing ideal in both Christianity and Chinese culture. According to the New Testament, Christians ought to become one organic body in Christ: “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (I Corinthians, 12: 12-13). In ancient Chinese classics, unity and harmony are highly valued.³ Many observers are fascinated...

  8. Conclusion A Reader Among Fieldworkers
    (pp. 365-384)
    Judith G. Wittner

    When Steve Warner invited me to join him in leading the fieldwork seminar that launched the studies reported here, I knew little about the sociology of religion and less about the varieties of religious practice and experience among immigrant populations in the United States. My contribution to the New Ethnic and Immigrant Congregations Project was to be my fieldwork experience and my knowledge of feminist scholarship. Most of what I know about studying religious practices I learned in the five years since we began these studies by reading the successive drafts of the essays that make up this book. As...

  9. Project Director’s Acknowledgments
    (pp. 385-388)
    R. Stephen Warner
  10. About the Contributors and Editors
    (pp. 389-390)
  11. Index
    (pp. 391-409)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 410-410)