Afterword: Migration, Transnationalism, Catholicism: Transnational Geographies, Spaces and Practices

Claire Dwyer

Although the work of completing the new classrooms for the expansion to the state-funded primary Catholic school is not yet finished, the diggers are silent and the workers assemble with the parents at the edge of the playground. Gathered in the centre of the playground are all the children, from the four year olds just started at nursery to the gawky eleven year olds ready for high school. United in the yellow and browns of the school uniform these are children from many different ethnic and national backgrounds. The small children’s choir, assembled on a dias, begins to sing Tatum Ergo, testing the unfamiliar words. The Cardinal, resplendent in his mitre crosses the playground shielding the monstrance in his ceremonial vestments ready to enact an outdoor Benediction service to celebrate the opening of the new school in Hanwell in West London.

Claire Dwyer (*)

University College London, London, UK © The Author(s) 2016

D. Pasura, M.B. Erdal (eds.), Migration, Transnationalism and Catholicism, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-58347-5

As the final hymn ends the head teacher, Mr Cassidy, stands up to thank the Cardinal, his teachers and governors, the construction workers and the local authority who have funded the building. He recounts the history of this publicly funded Catholic school, founded in 1907 although established a decade earlier by French nuns summoned by the Catholic priest to teach the children of the Irish immigrant workers building the railway. He reminds us this was initially the ‘ragged school’ funded by the nuns’ private school before a second act of emancipation provided for their funding. ‘No Pope on the rates’ was the local opposition to a Catholic school. The new school building includes an imaginative stained glass window which incorporates flags from the many different countries from which the current students trace their origins—including Ireland, Poland, Nigeria, the Philippines, Spain, Brazil, Sri Lanka. He concludes passionately: ‘we know the gloss paint in the new building will fade, and our latest technology by definition is already overtaken but the faith ethos of our Catholic school is constant, the ambition for each and every child, be they third generation Hanwellians, or the latest wave of migrants, the latest of wave after wave after wave, is unshaken.’

(Fieldwork Notes, 3 May 2016, Opening of new building, St Joseph’s Catholic School, Hanwell).

This vignette is drawn from ongoing fieldwork in West London which explores the ways in which faith communities are shaping suburban landscapes through the creative making of place (Dwyer et al. 2013, 2015). Within this one locality our research traces the histories and transnational trajectories of a diverse range of faith communities, with this Catholic case study providing a useful historicised comparative example to case studies of newer migrant faith communities. The Catholic community in Hanwell, which worships in the church of Our Lady and St Josephs, first founded in the 1860s, provides a typical example of English urban Catholicism with its roots in the Irish migrants who built Brunel’s railway viaduct followed by further migrants from Ireland and the Philippines who came to work in the local hospital and asylum and now swelled by a diverse range of transnational Catholic migrants to London, particularly those from Poland. This is a community which benefits from state-funded Catholic schools, institutions whose contested origins resonate in ongoing debates about funding religious schools and their role in promoting the integration of immigrant groups (Dwyer and

Parutis 2013). While this opening vignette might usefully situate myself and my own research in relation to the wider focus of this volume on Migration, Transnationalism and Catholicism, I want to use it also as a springboard to thinking about the contributions of this collection. In particular I want to think comparatively about what this fascinating collection of essays might offer to wider debates about religion, migration and transnationalism.

Migration, Transnationalism and Catholicism is, as its editors rightly point out in their Introduction, a path-breaking volume in its focus on Catholicism, defined by them as a ‘mainstream’ religion, within the wider sphere of increasing attention from both academics and policy makers on the intersections of religion and migration. However it is noteworthy that some of the most important recent work on religion, migration and mobilities, particularly by those in religious studies, has taken Catholicism as their starting point. For example, Thomas Tweed’s study of Cuban-American popular Catholicism Our Lady of the Exile (1997), draws on ethnographic research amongst Cuban emigres at the shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami, to suggest new directions for thinking about religion and space. For Tweed the transnational religious practices he analyses became the foundation for a theory of religion which focuses on ‘crossing and dwelling’ (2006), emphasising the dynamics of religious practices in and through different scales and spaces. For Robert Orsi, the urban religious practices of the Italian-American community in Harlem, New York, discussed in The Madonna of115th Street (1985) provided the impetus for the development of his theoretical framing of lived religion (2006, 2016) which prioritises religious practice in the study of religion. Similarly, Manuel Vasquez (2011) draws on research amongst Catholic Latina communities in the USA to develop a materialist theory of religion which argues that material cultures and practices must be central to how religion is researched and theorised. While the impetus for all of these studies is the theorisation of religion or the religious, what they have in common is scholarship which reflects, like the chapters in this volume, on the intersections of migration, transnationalism and Catholicism. Elsewhere, within the wider literatures on religious transnationalism we see in Peggy Levitt’s (2007) study of migrants in Boston an analysis of the distinctiveness of the model of the Catholic Church’s ‘extended’ transnational religious organisation.

In reflecting on this new collection, then, I want to draw out two threads. First, I explore the different ways in which the chapters in this volume engage with ideas about transnationalism in relation to Catholicism. Drawing on my own disciplinary background I use the framework of transnational geographies to suggest that the transnational is engaged in relation to different scales and imaginaries, reflecting on the importance of transnational networks, spaces and practices. Second, I ask what the chapters in this book might also offer in terms of theorising religion.

Scholars of religion have been, as suggested in the citations above, increasingly drawn to thinking spatially (Vasquez and Knott 2014). For geographers, and others, the challenge of thinking about transnationalism, as the process by which social relations and social formations are stretched across national borders, is to tease out the different scales, understandings and imaginaries of space which are involved in transnational networks and geographies (Jackson et al. 2004) and what effects these framings might have. An important starting point for this volume is an interdisciplinary engagement with the framing of the transnational. In the opening chapter Gemma Tulud Cruz offers a theological engagement with the transnational which offers the potential for new forms of liberation theology (see below). For historian Sarah Roddy (chapter “Mass Migration’s Impact on Irish Catholicism: An Historical View”) there is an explicit challenge to the contemporary bias of much work on transnationalism, and religious transnationalism, in her analysis of how it provides a fruitful lens for understanding the ways in which the Irish diaspora abroad were involved in shaping religious change, the so-called ‘devotional revolution’, in nineteenth-century Ireland. While the technologies of contemporary religious transnationalism may be more instantaneous, Roddy provides a fascinating account of the ways in which, through Catholic publishing and through transnational fundraising religious changes in Ireland were shaped by the Irish abroad. She reminds readers that the shared transnational social field provided through letter writing linked migrants and those remaining in Ireland who ‘saw the same iconographic art and architecture, heard the same hymns and said the same prayers’.

Gemma Tulud Cruz’s opening chapter provides a helpful overview of the different ways in which we might map ‘transnationalism within

Catholicism’ which she separates out as ‘Ecclesiological: church structures, processes and teaching’ and ‘Liturgical: sacraments and popular piety’. For other authors in this collection the distinction might be between institutional forms of transnationalism and forms of transnational religious practice, or might be mapped onto Levitt’s five ‘levels’ of the transnational religious field which range from ‘individual religious practices’ to ‘global culture and institutions’ (Levitt 2003, 850; see also Levitt 2004). Other authors, such as Pasura, draw on a distinction between ‘transnational practices’ and the framing of these practices through the notion of ‘transnational perspectives’. In her outline of the transnationalism of the Catholic Church, Cruz emphasises the vast and interconnected networks of activities of the Catholic Church through ‘religious congregations, missionary activities, schools, hospitals, pilgrimage sites, international events’ which might be characterised as institutional, material and human networks. It is a transnational organisation characterised by both transnational institutional structures and by the transnationalism ‘from below’ of individuals and migrant communities. This is a helpful framing which encompasses the diversity of approaches to migration, transnationalism and Catholicism in this volume expressed in many different contexts and producing different challenges. In teasing out some of the cross-cutting themes of the volume I use the distinctions of transnational networks, spaces and practices although in practice these are often interlinked.

Cruz’s own chapter helpfully delineates some of the different forms of transnational networks that might be made visible either in the form of distinct missions to serve migrant communities abroad, such as the Philippine Chaplaincy in Paris or transnational Catholic agencies or humanitarian organisations. In a number of other chapters in this volume we see more detailed discussion of how such transnational networks or institutional formations might work in practice or be negotiated. In his overview of the Latino immigrants in the USA and their role in redefining American Catholicism, Hosffman Ospino (chapter “Latino Immigrants and the Redefinition of the U.S. Catholic Experience in the Twenty-First Century”) offers a typology of different institutional responses to immigration ranging from distinct ‘ethnic parishes’ where parishoners and clergy are from the same ethnic background and religious services and other communal activities are conducted in Spanish, to more diverse models of integrated or intercultural communities. This chapter effectively outlines some of the institutional challenges facing ostensibly transnational organisations like the Catholic Church—should migrants retain the possibility of practising their faith in the language and idiom of the homeland or adapt to the form of Catholicism practised in their new home? Louise Ryan’s discussion of ethnic chaplains in England and Wales (chapter “Building Bridges to Parishes: The Catholic Church in England and Wales and the Role of Ethnic Chaplains”), research commissioned by the Catholic Church itself, highlights these debates very effectively. Her findings emphasise the value of providing distinctive linguistic and ethnic forms of ministry particularly when migrants continue to experience forms of exclusion from co-religionists [exclusions echoed in Dominic Pasuras study of Zimbabwean Catholics in the UK (chapter “Transnational Religious Practices and Negotiation of Difference Among Zimbabwean Catholics in Britain”) where forms of African musical worship practice are uneasily incorporated]. Yet separate ethnic ministries are regarded by the Catholic hierarchy as problematic because they might impede ‘integration’ or challenge existing forms of religious authority. Ambrosini’s discussion of immigration in Italy (chapter “Protected but Separate: International Immigrants in the Italian Catholic Church”) explores similar institutional tensions. While he sees ethnic forms of worship as necessary since migrants are not well incorporated into the Italian Catholic Church, he also celebrates the role that the Catholic Church has played in Italy as an advocate for migrants and as a challenge to governmental, exclusions of undocumented migrants. This is a critical intervention which is not always supported by the Catholic hierarchy. These chapters together provide an insightful analysis of the ways in which transnational religious networks might both operate as institutional formations but also the ways in which different scales of transnational religious networks produce instabilities and challenges. Transnational religious networks formed by migrants themselves, actors from below, often challenge the institutional frameworks and authority of institutional religion. A rather different lens on transnational networks is offered by Thien-Huong T. Ninh’s analysis of how Vietnamese Catholics in the US mobilised a ‘ethno-religious’ transnationalism to provide humanitarian assistance for Cambodians, in this case the trans?national networks are not mobilised initially through direct interaction but rather through a shared transnational imaginary supported in the US context through narratives of ethnic identity.

Returning to Dominic Pasuras chapter on Zimbabwean Catholics, I want to develop a theme which recurs in the volume, although is perhaps not identified explicitly as such, of space and places of transnational religion identity and practice. Pasuras analysis teases out the specific spaces within which forms of transnational religious identity are practised and negotiated—the specific parishes within which hybrid forms of musical transnational religious practice are celebrated, for example, or the ways in which embodied performances of Zimbabwean identity through drums or religious guild uniform remake ‘English’ pilgrimage journeys. Elsewhere, John Eade (chapter “Parish and Pilgrimage in a Changing Europe”) considers pilgrimage sites as particularly productive sites through which to analyse the intersections of different forms of Catholic religious practice and where migrants from many different Catholic religious traditions might converge. The making of a distinctive new ‘translocal’ pilgrimage site, Pelerignage aux Saintes et Saints d’Afrique at Saint-Maurice in Switzerland, discussed by Monika Salzbrunn and Raphaela von Weichs (chapter “Translocal Martyrdom: Community-Making Through African Pilgrimages in Switzerland”) is a fascinatingly resonant example of the ways in which transnational religious networks (of both African migrants to Switzerland and Swiss missionaries to Uganda) enable the re-mapping of a sacred site of pilgrimage. Thus individual parishes or pilgrimage sites may become the focus of new forms of transnational religious devotion or practice either self-consciously, enabled by a specific institutional impetus and patronage, as is the case at Saint-Maurice, or more organically as is suggested in Alana Harris’s ethnography of devotion to St Antony of Padua in one east London parish (chapter “‘They Just Dig St Antony, He’s Right Up Their Street, Religious Wise’: Transnational Flows and Inter-Religious Encounters in an East London Parish”). In her account of the diverse participants at the weekly novena of St Antony which encompasses prayer and liturgy, embodied spiritual practice, petitions and the veneration of relics, Harris reflects on the ways in which migrants, particularly from South India and including Hindus and Catholics, have transformed and enriched a ‘historic extra-liturgical practice’, thereby enabling ‘a ‘traditional’ and transnational Catholic devotional to function as an innovative space for prayer, communion and encounter’. This convergence of religious prac- tioners, both older migrants, particularly Irish travellers, and newer South Asian migrants, transforms the church space enacting new forms of religious practice and encounter. Such possibilities are also echoed in Erdal’s analysis of Polish migration in Norway (chapter “When Poland Became the Main Country of Birth Among Catholics in Norway’: Exploring the Interface of Polish Migrants’ Everyday Narratives and Church Responses to a Rapid Demographic Re-constitution”) where she ponders the possibilities of churches becoming distinctive sites of integration and conviviality through encounter. Thus particular spaces within transnational networks might enable distinctive possibilities for interaction, integration or encounter. In particular new pilgrimage spaces or sites of devotion may be produced which escape the organisational or institutional frameworks of religious authority or hierarchy. Of course, pilgrimage sites or spaces of devotion to religious relics as well as vernacular sites of devotion like holy wells have long been a feature of lived Catholicism but arguably have been reanimated through migration and transnational social formations.

Threaded through both these frames of thinking about transnational networks and spaces is a focus on distinctive transnational practices of religion. The discussion of tensions around forms of transnational religious institutions discussed above is often focused on the retention of distinctive cultural forms of religious practice—embodied in language, dress or music. Devotions to particular saints or distinctive practices, such as the Filipino Christmas celebration of Simbang Gabi, may be carefully reproduced by migrants abroad (Caneva, chapter “The Role of Religion in the Identity Construction Processes of Filipino Second Generations Living in Italy”). Cruz describes the performance of distinctive transnational liturgies—such as the celebration of the Eucharist on the US-Mexico border—a ceremony which takes on a powerful resonance in the context of securitised borders and transnational families. The transnational practice of religion might include the use of technology to simultaneously participate in worship with compatriots elsewhere, as well as the creative adaptation of distinctive Zimbabwean forms of Catholicism to a new British context (Pasura). Several chapters in this volume (Harris, Ambrosini) suggest the ways in which new forms of devotion or forms of popular piety, such as written petitions to Saint Antony, take on particular resonance for migrants (and other ethnic minorities) who are marginalised, struggling or excluded. Migration then may offer a ‘theologising experience’ (Smith 1978) for migrants seeking support while migrants themselves may also evangelise and reinvigorate the Catholic spaces with which they connect when they migrate.

If we return to the question about what the authors of this collection might offer not only to the theorisation of the transnational but also to the theorisation of the religious, it is clear that the examples in this volume resonate with the wider work cited about the need to pay attention to the experience of lived religion and the significance of material and embodied practices. Particularly in the most ethnographic chapters from Alana Harris and Dominic Pasura a vernacular and everyday experience of Catholicism is articulated through which individuals and communities make sense of their lives and the role of religion for them. Yet alongside this is an interesting thread which explores the intersections of theology and migration. It is evident in the debates within Catholic religious institutions about how best to incorporate and engage with migrants—whether through the ‘invention’ of forms of pilgrimage which venerate African martyrs and a black Madonna as a means to engage African migrants in Switzerland or in debates about social action for migrants in Italy. In her opening chapter Cruz offers a distinctive theological approach, arguing that liberation theology provides a ‘hermeneutical framework for interrogating Catholic transnationalism’. Her argument is founded on the distinctive perspective provided by migrants or refugees to transcend national boundaries and build new forms of transnational catholic civic engagement. Both approaches offer a powerful rejoinder to the critique that studies of migration or transnationalism do not engage explicitly enough with the category of the religious itself.

Taken together, the chapters in this book provide a rich critical reflection on the intersections of migration, religious and transnationalism. While focused primarily on the European experience, the global perspectives of the title are evident in the migration networks and flows which are analysed. The book offers a critical engagement with both scales, imaginaries and processes of the transnational, which might helpfully be applied to other forms of religious transnationalism, while also offering a critical engagement with the category of the religious.

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