Religious Circulation and Mediterranean Anchorings. States and Globalisation of Contemporary Religions. Southern Europe, Maghreb and Middle-East. – CIRELANMED

Religious circulation and Mediterranean anchoring

State and globalization of contemporary religion. Southern Europe, Maghreb, Middle-East<br />

Circulation and religious pluralisation

<br />In this new context of religious pluralisation, lability of religious identities and hybridization of practices , States must adjust their frameworks to changes. The increase of religious circulation and transformation has become a reason for confrontation and political tension.<br /><br />Religious issues also appear central in political developments in countries of the Maghreb and the Middle East, as they are at the forefront of choices that societies have to make after the uprisings of 2011.<br /><br />These developments have implications on issues of self-individuation, emancipation from the social group, sustaining the bond with the country of origin in the case of international migration, identity negociation.<br />

The project is motivated by three main ambitions:

1 . A comparative and multi located research due to the need to apprehend jointly both sides of the Mediterranean , in a resolutely interdisciplinary perspective , attentive to the diversity of contexts and the importance of religion in the current mobilizations.

2 . the necessity to involve researchers who have an intimate knowledge of their field, who practice the language and know the local issues.

3 . The will to demonstrate the complexity and variety of modes of religious circulations and the ambition to consider how they participate in anchoring new religious practices in the Mediterranean religious landscape .

Methods :

Multidisciplinary team of researchers in Humanities : anthropology , sociology, geography , history, political science

Qualitative fieldwork
Countries covered: France , Italy, Bosnia, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria , Morocco

Expected Results:

Evaluate the success or failure of new religious practices (churches, pilgrimages) through specific case studies.

Map the formation process of religious elites in the Mediterranean (networks evangelical Protestantism)

Assess the social and political consequences of religious conversions (religious pluralism and Law)

Observe the religious policies of heritage and their cultural and economic benefits (religious tourism and heritage)

Religious changes have their importance in the political development of the countries of the Maghreb and the Middle East, as they appear to be at the forefront of the choice that societies must operate after the Arab uprisings of 2011. The work undertaken in the Maghreb on issues of religious freedom will contribute to a better understanding of the political implications of religious pluralism in Muslim-majority countries.
This project aims to understand these processes in a particular context: a systemic crisis in the North, which ultimately raises the question of inherited religious identities combined with new beliefs that have taken root, and major socio-political developments in the South, which question traditional identities and the legitimacy of plural claims. All around the Mediterranean, these issues shape the answers formulated by the different States according to their own histories.

Publication in a scientific periodical
Publication of a collective scholarly work

Scholars are aware that the illusion of a stable religious landscape, with Islam to the South of the Mediterranean, Christianity to the North and a religious mosaic to the East, source of many tensions and conflicts, has disappeared. Our research will take place in the Mediterranean region and will focus on political and social changes at work on the southern shore in comparison with the northern and eastern shore. Our team of scholars will address “religious circulation” in its widest sense, firstly referring to migration and imported or recomposed religious practices, but also, as a concept referring to several types of acts such as the training of the religious elite, religious conversion in its classic sense and the contemporary evolution of pilgrimages with regard to politics of heretagization, touristic development and local policies. Bringing together these three types of circulations will enable us to study the different ways in which the Mediterranean States answer the challenges they present, and will allow us to bring to light the ways in which religions anchor themselves, physically and symbolically in new places, according to political and economical contexts.

In order to understand the inherent complexity of our research object, this program brings together an international and interdisciplinary team, made up of anthropologists, sociologists, geographers, historians and political scientists. A vast series of comparative fieldwork research, some multi-situated, on the three shores of the Mediterranean sea, will be the basis of the analyses for our project.

We will manage CIRELANMED collectively : three work packages, based on the three modes of religious circulation which we have identified and which will enable us to answer transversal tasks. These “tasks” represent three complementary entries into the scientific issue. Indeed, understanding individual experiences of religion, their institutional framework and the constructed discourses they generate in the different societies which we are studying will enable us to compare the diverse anchoring of religious pluralism in the Mediterranean region.

We also wish to develop a euro-mediterranean research network which will facilitate scientific exchanges between the three partners (MMSH, France ; University of Padoue, Italy ; University of Sousse, Tunisia ; Ibn Séoud Foundation, Morocco). Other collaborations could be initiated in the course of the project.

Scientific diffusion is planned through two distinct actions : scientific communication via a research carnet called Hypothèses on the one hand and the organization of ethnographic workshop on the other for young secondary school students in Marseille, through “Ethnologue en herbe-Méditerranée”.

Finally, scientific training will take place in the frame of a doctoral school, organized at the end of the project, in Tunisia, which will facilitate scientific and human exchanges between students of the three shores of the Mediterranean. This doctoral school will marry classic methodological and theoretical training to the learning of the use of new digital technologies through the tools of Digital Humanities.

Project coordination

Katia Boissevain (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Délégation Provence et Corse _ Institut d'Ethnologie Méditerranéenne, Européenne et Comparative) –

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LABREL Laboratorio religioni
LPED Laboratoire populations environnement et développement, IRD
CNRS DR12 _ IDEMEC Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Délégation Provence et Corse _ Institut d'Ethnologie Méditerranéenne, Européenne et Comparative

Help of the ANR 276,308 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: June 2013 - 36 Months

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