[P4730] Diasporic Devotion: Transnational Religion and Middle East Migrations

Created by Akram F. Khater
Sunday, 11/19/17 10:30am


This panel interrogates the linkages between religiosity and mobility among Middle Eastern communities. How were religious attachments maintained and reinvented by people on the move? What role did religion play in facilitating new forms of migration and in shaping diasporic communities? By bringing together papers that cut across the 'modern'/'early modern' divide, the panel will interrogate existing paradigms within the history of Middle Eastern migration. On the one hand, scholars of the 19th-century mass migrations out of Ottoman Syria tend to depict migrants as purely rational economic actors, motivated variously by capital, class and politics. By contrast, scholars of the preceding centuries are accustomed to giving religious elites a lead role in the creation of new forms of mobility among Ottoman subjects. Five papers from across this time frame will bring the religiosity of Middle Eastern migrants into the center ground, examining the complex ways they experienced and performed their faith. From the mobility of Arabic-speaking Catholics around the Mediterranean in the 17th and 18th centuries; to the miraculous properties Palestinian migrants invested in their devotional objects in the 19th century; to the circulation of Orthodox Christian texts and their authors; and the refashioning of Maronite identity in the U.S in the early 20th century; the panel seeks to uncover previously neglected areas of migrants' religiosity that were nevertheless central to their transient lifestyles. While all the papers are focused on Christian actors, we are keen to use these as case studies for a wider discussion of how historians of migration and diaspora can better capture the types of religious attachment usually overlooked within grand narratives of 'push' and 'pull' factors.


Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies


Moise Khayarallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies





Akram F. Khater

(North Carolina State University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer; Presenter;

Andrew Arsan

(University of Cambridge)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Jacob Norris

(University of Sussex (UK))
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;