In the context of global flows of money, resources, people, practices and discourses, religion scholars have increasingly developed a networked understanding that religion is not confined in a territory but extends across national borders (Ebaugh and Chafetz, 2002; Woods, 2013). In understanding transnational religious networks, existing scholarship has explored transnational migrants’ identity reconstruction, place-making and community building with respect to religion in receiving countries (e.g. Habarakada and Shin, 2019; Mazumdar and Mazumdar, 2009), their maintenance of religious connections with home places (Vásquez and Knott, 2014; Levitt, 2001), and diasporic congregations through which religious exchanges among members are produced (e.g. Levitt, 2004). Overall, the discussion of transnational religious networks has been mostly grounded in the context of migration; therefore, it tends to suggest that transnational religious networks are forged by specific migrant groups and are primarily migratory outcomes.

This workshop builds on a growing body of literature that moves beyond the dominant focus on migrants and migration towards alternative articulations of transnational religious networks. Within a transnational field, there are many other networks, which are independent from migration networks, that also prompt the (re)production of religious beliefs, practices and identities across national borders. For instance, Schüler (2008) argues that transnational religious networks are also embedded in imagined spaces by illustrating that transnationalism is located in the Pentecostal imaginary rather than in de facto processes of migration. Such alternative formation of transnational religious networks needs to be given greater attention.

We are also interested in those alternative religious networks which are not necessarily dependent from but built on migration networks to formulate new ways of production within a transnational field. We seek papers on the formation of transnational religious networks based on institutional alliances between religious organizations in different places at different scales, through which cross-border organizational arrangements are worked out and the boundaries of belonging are redefined. Also, we delve into the question of how religious discourses and practices in a transnational field are initiated, translated and shaped by other social actors who are ‘not themselves trans-migrants or involved in transnational familial networks’ (Valentine et al., 2013, p.51). Papers emphasize the role of non-human actants in influencing cross-border ties and networks are also welcome. Finally, this workshop seeks papers on how religious beliefs and practices travel across borders not just through institutions and formal networks but also through informal networks and everyday life of religious adherents (Sheringham, 2010). We invite papers which add more nuances to the theorization of ‘lived religion’ (Orsi, 2003) by investigating the lived and everyday dimensions of transnational religious networks.

In addition, this workshop invites speakers which adopt new methodological approaches to researching transnational religious networks. In particular, two panels of the conference will be dedicated to new ethnographic approaches to this expanded field of research. These include new methodologies for tracing transnational networks through digital means, new directions in ethnography that explore the role of ethics in everyday life, and alternative approaches emphasizing empathy, cognition, and community building under conditions of ontological shift.

This workshop engages with transnational networks of different kinds of religion, including formal, institutional religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, as well as popular beliefs and rites such as the cult of ancestors and local deities. We invite papers offering an Asian perspective to articulate alternative religious networks across national boundaries, which cover but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Religious/ritual economy
  • Pilgrimage across nation borders
  • Community building and place making
  • The reconstruction of identity and belonging
  • Generational relations and dynamics in the production of religious transnationalism
  • Religious networks that parallel, intersect or substitute for kinship, surname and locality networks
  • The reconfiguration of religious organizations and politics therein
  • New ethnographic approaches to transnational religious networks