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Religious Superdiversity and Gray Zones in Public Total Institutions

In: Journal of Religion in Europe
Author: Irene Becci1
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Out of several years of research experience in the field of religion in prison, this article proposes some reflections on how to consider both a superdiverse situation and power issues in public total institutions. It proposes to use the notion of ‘gray zone,’ which refers to both the fluidity of current religious practices in contrast to a clear-cut distinction between secularity and religion and to an ambiguous positioning of actors in the complex field of institutional power relations. First, the author discusses briefly the structural locations of religion in European public total institutions and the ways these have been studied. Second, the focus shifts to those locations and uses of religion that are informal and that open up what the author calls a ‘gray zone.’ The concluding remarks highlight the complex power issues and relations at work in the realm of such a gray zone.

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