Gatherings in Diaspora: Religious Communities and the New Immigration

Warner, R. Stephen and Judith G. Wittner, eds. Gatherings in Diaspora: Religious Communities and the New Immigration. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1998.

Gatherings in Diaspora, edited by R. Stephen Warner (professor of sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago) and Judith Wittner (associate professor of sociology, Loyola University of Chicago), breaks new ground by exploring the meaning of religious identity and community among a number of the largely-ignored “new” ethnic and immigrant groups whose presence and visibility in America have greatly expanded since the mid-1960s. The religious presence of these “new” immigrants—people with origins in East and South Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America—represents 15 percent of the U. S. population. This book seeks to correct the scholarly oversight of these significant and growing religious communities by profiling ten of them, describing in particular the ways they negotiate social and religious identity, adapt institutionally (especially to American congregational organization) and form religious community in America. <p> The religious communities featured in the book—five Christian (Protestant/charismatic, Catholic and Orthodox) and one each Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Rastafari and a mixed Vodou-Catholic—broadly represent the religions of the new immigrants. Warner’s “Introduction” explains the history behind the rise of these “new” ethnic and immigrant groups in America along with the background of the New Ethnic and Immigrant Communities Project and the methodology used for the study. Ten chapters written by the project’s research fellows then follow, grouped under four broad themes: (1) religion and the negotiation of identities; (2) immigrants’ relations with religious host communities; (3) institutional adaptations; and (4) internal differentiation in congregations. Wittner offers a closing chapter by overviewing significant aspects of the ten communities presented and charting the agenda for future research in this area.