Diasporic Journeys, Ritual, and Normativity among Asian Migrant Women

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9780415592017: Diasporic Journeys, Ritual, and Normativity among Asian Migrant Women

The power of embodied ritual performance to constitute agency and transform subjectivity are increasingly the focus of major debates in the anthropology of Christianity and Islam. They are particularly relevant to understanding the way transnational women migrants from South and South East Asia, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists, who migrate to Asia, Europe and the Middle East to work as carers and maids, re-imagine and recreate themselves in moral and ethical terms in the diaspora.

This timely collection shows how women international migrants, stereotypically represented as a ‘nation of servants’, reclaim sacralised spaces of sociality in their migration destinations, and actively transform themselves from mere workers into pilgrims and tourists on cosmopolitan journeys. Such women struggle for dignity and respect by re-defining themselves in terms of an ethics of care and sacrifice. As co-worshippers they recreate community through fiestas, feasts, protests, and shared conviviality, while subverting established normativities of gender, marriage and conjugality; they renegotiate their moral selfhood through religious conversion and activism. For migrants the place of the church or mosque becomes a gateway to new intellectual and experiential horizons as well as a locus for religious worship and a haven of humanitarian assistance in a strange land.

This book was published as a special issue of the Asia-Pacific Journal of Anthropology.

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About the Author:

Pnina Werbner is Professor of Social Anthropology at Keele University.

Mark Johnson is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at The University of Hull.

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