Refugee Hosts is delighted to announce that two of its researchers, Dr Anna Rowlands (Durham University) and Prof. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (UCL) will be editing the new Oxford Handbook on Religion and Contemporary Migration due to be published by Oxford University Press in 2021. The editors write:

This Handbook will add a timely religious, philosophical and theological focus to existing handbooks exploring contemporary migration. We aim to offer a major new resource to an area – the study of religion, faith and theology in the context of migration – that remains notably under-theorised.

There can be little doubt that the intersection of religion and migration is an area of growing intellectual, political, and humanitarian interest. Impelled by the increasing numbers of international and internal migrants, the politically intractable nature of many contemporary conflicts and their resultant displacements, and the politicization of all forms of migration, a new and fast-developing field of migration studies has emerged. Questions about migrants as religious agents and the role of faith in humanitarianism; the shaping role of religious traditions in setting the ‘ethics’ through which cultures view migration, and in turn the role of migration in shaping religious traditions themselves; and the role of religion in conflict that drives migration, are urgently in need of more academic attention.

The Handbook will act as the leading resource for undergraduates, doctoral students and peer researchers, and will include contributions from an international team of scholars who are developing cutting-edge work in this newly emergent, cross-disciplinary field.

The Handbook will have six main sections:

  • Religious ethics, metaphysics and migration: This first section will include the exploration of questions including the following: What roles do borders play in major religions traditions and in contemporary religious debates about migration? What specific philosophical and ethical traditions have arisen from religious sources, and how are they deployed by a range of contemporary actors vis-à-vis migration debates? How do contemporary political ideologies utilize religious ideas as part of their discourse about sovereignty, borders, and migration? How do religious traditions provide grounds for resistance to contemporary political trends regarding sovereignty and borders?
  • Theology and migration: The second section will highlight the role of theological discourse in the interpretation of migration. It will examine the formal theological norms of a variety of religious traditions as they relate to migration. This section will also cover the topic of inter-religious dialogue as it emerges from, is changed by, and contributes towards the migration of peoples, and diverse responses to migration. This section will also explore the darker side of the connections between theology and migration. These include religious norms, values and practices that are at stake in contexts of conflict, xenophobia and displacement and the role of religious traditions as causal factors in forced displacement.
  • Immigration, religious belief and practice: The third section will explore the ways that immigration shapes religious belief and practice, and vice versa. It will focus on religion as beneficiary of migratory movements, on religion as a cause of forced displacement, and on the politicization of religious and migrant identities.
  • Migration, religion and humanitarianism: As this section will examine, the last decade has witnessed a major turn towards ‘localization’ in humanitarian policy agendas, as well as increased critical academic and policy attention to the role of religion in humanitarianism. This renewed focus on localization has also shed light on migrant-migrant networks of support and processes of refugee-refugee humanitarianism, in which religion is often a major factor.
  • Religion, migration, aesthetics and art: Migratory movements have been major sources for the renewal of arts, literature, science, and philosophy, with both religious and secular art depicting the reality of migrations. Contemporary political migration activism has also turned heavily towards the arts as a space of action and reaction. This section will examine the role of arts activism, and the production of art and literature as part of migratory movements, displacement, and statelessness.
  • Migration, religion and markets A significant amount of contemporary faith-based activism is focused on human trafficking and the global trade in human persons. This final section will include reflections that explore this theme from different perspectives. Given the role of migrants in different labour markets, and as economic agents in formal and informal economic situations, other chapters in this section will discuss the role of religion as it intersects with diverse socio-economic practices. Such analyses will relate to the markets of countries of ‘origin’ and ‘destination’, transit economic exchanges, undocumented workers, and refugee economic markets.

Watch this space for a list of contents and contributors, to be issued in the autumn! We would like to thank Robert Repino and the team at OUP in New York for making this exciting project possible.


If you found this piece of interest you can listen to Dr. Anna Rowlands on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme Special – Immigration and Religion, and visit our Faith and Displacement Series and the recommended reading list below:

Eghdamian, K. (2018) “How to Overcome Religious Prejudice among Refugees

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2017) “Gender, Religion and Humanitarian Responses to Refugees

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2016) “Refugee-Refugee Relationality: Hospitality and ‘Being With’ Refugees

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. and Qasmiyeh, Y. M. (2017) “Refugee-Refugee Solidarity in Death and Dying

Goodwin, E. (2019) “Engaging with religion at the local level for mental health and psychosocial wellbeing following humanitarian crises

Kidwai, S. “Engaging Faith-Values to Reshape Responses to Forced Migration

Kidwai, S. and Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2017) “Seeking Evidence to Provide Protection: How can Local Faith Communities Support Refugees?

Loris-Rodionoff, C. (2017) “Hope, Resilience, Uncertainty: A Day with Displaced Syrians in Southern Turkey”

Phipps, A. (2017) “A Tale of Humanity, Love and Reaching out to Refugees”

Qasmiyeh.  Y. M. (2018)   “Flesh when mutilated called god.”

Qasmiyeh. Y. M. (2018) “The camp is the reject of the reject par excellence.” 

Qasmiyeh. Y. M. (2018)  “In mourning the refugee we mourn gods intention in the absolute”

Rayes, D. (2018) “In God We Trust: Faith communities as an asset to refugee youth in the United States

Rowlands, A. (2017) Faith and Displacement Series

Rowlands, A. and Greatrick, A. (2018) Turkey – Crossroads for the Displaced

Taylor, K. (2018) “Belgian Refugees in Glasgow: Local Faith Communities, Hosting and the Great War

Zbeidy, D. (2017) “Widowhood, Displacement and Friendships in Jordan

Featured image:  Zarqa, Jordan.  (c) E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, 2018.



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