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Transnational Communities Programme

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Social Anthropology Subject Group

University of Sussex

Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9SJ

Tel. +44 (0) 1273-606755, Fax No. +44 (0) 1273-623572

E-mail:, E-mail:

Workshop on Transnational Households and Ritual, May 4th, 2000

A workshop on Transnational Households and Ritual, organised by Katy Gardner and Ralph Grillo for the University of Sussex Social Anthropology Subject Group (in association with the Sussex Centre for Migration Research, SCMR) will take place at the University on May 4th, 2000, from 9.15-17.30 in Room 221, Institute of Development Studies.

"Transnationalism" has recently been a major topic of concern in the social sciences, not least in social anthropology. There was, during the 1990s, a spate of research and writing dealing with migration and diaspora in the context of a transnational, globalising world which covered issues as diverse as the political economy of migration, the nature of diasporic identity and of citizenship, the role of the nation-state in the formation of transnational "communities", the influence of new media of communication, and the appropriateness of such concepts as "post-national"2E There has been concern, too, to question whether transnational migration is as new a phenomenon as is sometimes claimed, and if not, how transnational migration now differs from international migration in the past.

Despite the wide-ranging nature of current research and writing, many aspects of transnationalism seem not to have been accorded the consideration they deserve. For example, surprisingly little has been published on its gendered nature, or on household level transnational practices. Some thought has been given to the transnational dimension of world religions (notably Islam), but transnational religious practices (rituals) at the level of the household, have been under-investigated. This has resulted in the underplaying of gender perspectives and a notable absence of discussion of the micro-politics of transnational religion. It is true that rituals and ceremonies performed by immigrants in their European countries of residence have been the object of increasing notice, but less attention been paid to immigrants’ performances of rituals back in their countries of origin, and less still to what might be termed the "transnational division of ritual space." Yet analysis at the household level of the performances of, and meanings attributed to, classic life crisis rituals (birth, marriage, death) as well as other religious occasions should offer anthropologists an important route to understanding relations between place, culture, ethnic identity and gender among migrants in a transnational world.

The workshop is likely to include papers by Dr. Katy Gardner (Sussex), Kanwal Mand (Sussex), Dr. Ruth Mandel (UCL), Dr. Karen Fog Olwig (Copenhagen), Dr. Filippo Osella (Sussex), Ruba Salih (Sussex), Dr. Jock Stirrat (Sussex.) As well as Sussex faculty and research students, a number of visitors will be present including Dr. Roger Ballard (Manchester), and Prof. Harry Goulbourne (USB).

All faculty and graduate students are welcome to attend,

but please let us know by 24th April if you would like to come

Katy Gardner, Ralph Grillo (21st March, 2000)

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