Migration Policies and Uncertainty

Prayer as (Un)Political Activism among African Pentecostals in Switzerland

In: African Diaspora
Author: Jeanne Rey 1
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  • 1 Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Geneva, Switzerland

Abstract

This article addresses the role of migrant congregations as civil society players through the practice of prayer. By combining the notion of political activism and the theory of subjectivation, it offers a new perspective on Pentecostal practice and migrant congregations in Europe as a way of addressing uncertainty linked to migration policies and mobility regimes. In Switzerland, where conditions for migrants have become increasingly restrictive, political and social forms of exclusion are challenged by African Pentecostal migrants who engage in prayer that contests restrictions on mobility, assignation to subaltern positions, as well as other forms of discrimination. Yet, this ritual resistance rarely takes the form of a political action; neither does it formulate concrete claims towards immigration procedures and policies. Rather, it is expressed through prayer in the protective space of a religious community, allowing the migrants to reassess subjectivations and to imagine new subjectivities.

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