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The Provocations of Contact Zones: Spaces for Negotiating Post-Migrant Identities

In: International Journal of Public Theology
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  • 1 Professor of Religious Education and Religious Studies, Lutheran University of Nuremberg, Germany
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Abstract

Post-migrant societies in Europe are characterized by political, cultural, religious, and social changes. Where people meet under the conditions of migration and globalization, new places and spaces of negotiating are arising. They are formed by provocative questions, dynamic reorientation, and social transformation, in particular regarding religious affiliations, contexts and experiences. This article will consider challenges and the resources of religion in terms of coping with ambiguity and building up post-migrant community relations. In this context, the concept of the ‘contact zone’ as a post-migrant place or space provides an insight to social spaces where cultures and religions meet, clash and grapple with each other, often in emotionally charged contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, like displacement and their aftermaths. These contact zones offer a place of discussing power, oppression, and religious diversities, but also find innovative perspectives for post-migrant identities. With reference to this, three case studies based on experiences of refugees in Europe with contact zones in refugee centers, schools and educational institutions allow for an understanding of the significance of places, the feeling of rootlessness and the findings of new places of religious identity, of ‘embodied’ habitation and participation. Finally, this article emphasizes the meaning of public speech in post-migrant societies from a Christian perspective.

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