Transnational Religious Spaces: Religious Organizations and Their Interaction in Africa, East Asia and Beyond

SFB 1199 (Leipzig U)

This workshop seeks to explore and discuss how religious organizations create new spatial configurations through border-crossing endeavors, such as transnational missionary enterprises, migration, and refuge.

We assume that transnationally – or transregionally – mobile religious actors, institutions, artifacts, and ideas challenge and transform existing spaces of interaction, thereby helping to create new spatial formats, such as missionary spaces, diasporas, temple networks, or transnational organizations (such as religious NGOs). While some religious groups may tend to establish themselves primarily among “co-ethnics” and thus create religious ‘enclaves,’ others may hold universal aspirations by crossing ethnic, cultural, and religious boundaries. Furthermore, some of these religious enterprises may be the outcome of strategic and deliberate planning, while others are fueled by economically motivated migration, social-political settings, or government persecution.
The workshop consists of two parts, in order to combine regional expertise on African and East Asian religious organizations on the one hand, with transregional and theoretical approaches on the other hand.

The first part consists of two parallel streams, focusing on transnational religious interaction seen from East Asian and from African perspectives. In the joint sessions of part 2, we aim to translate the earlier findings, questions, and hypotheses into a broader discussion that will integrate regional expertise and theoretical reasoning into a comparative perspective.

Keynote Speakers
Biographical Notes
Prof. Thomas Tweed (Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion, University of Notre Dame, USA)
Thomas Tweed is the W. Harold and Martha Welch Professor of American Studies and director of the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion at the University of Notre Dame. Having earned his PhD from Stanford University in 1989, his historical, ethnographic, and theoretical research about migrant religions in the United States, religion in the Americas, and spatial articulations of religion includes six books and another six edited volumes. His best-known publications include Our Lady of the Exile: Diasporic Religion at a Cuban Catholic Shrine in Miami (1997), Crossing and Dwelling: A Theory of Religion (2006), and America’s Church: The National Shrine and Catholic Presence in the Nation’s Capital (2011). Tweed taught previously at the University of Texas, the University of Miami, and the University of North Carolina. In addition, he was elected president of the American Society for the Study of Religion in 2013, and in 2015 he served as president of the American Academy of Religion.

Prof. Brian Larkin (Barnard College, Columbia University, USA)
Brian Larkin is a professor of anthropology at Columbia University. His research focuses on media in Nigeria and the religious, political, and cultural changes they bring about. He explores how media technologies comprise broader networked infrastructures that shape political rule, new urban spaces and religious life. He has also published on technology and breakdown, piracy and intellectual property, the global circulation of cultural forms, infrastructure and urban space, sound studies, and Nigerian film (Nollywood). He is completing a book which will analyse the role of media in the rise of new Islamic movements and explore theoretical questions about technology and religion. He is the author of Signal and Noise: Media Infrastructure and Urban Culture in Nigeria (2008) and co-editor of Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain (2000).