Defining and Identifying Middle Eastern Christian Communities in Europe (DIMECCE)

Project Participants

The objectives of this interdisciplinary project are to explore the migrant experiences of Middle Eastern Christian communities in Europe in order to identify the cultural encounters taking place and to examine their impact on defining and shaping identities. The European context is central to understanding the sim- ilarities and differences of these experiences and can add to current understandings of the categorisation of migrants and its implications on integration and the construction of identity within migrant groups. The case studies of the Coptic Orthodox (sub-state but global identity), Suryoye (Assyrians/Syrians – transna- tional supra-state identity) and Iraqi Christians (state identity) offer several strategies of identity construction including diasporic, particularistic and national. These in turn are shaped by existing integration strategies and church-state relations. The case study countries of the United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden allow a cross- country comparison of these cultural encounters, while exploring the transnational nature of the communities. Through the use of core but contested concepts, nota- bly identity, minority, diaspora, transnationalism and integration, the project seeks to advance knowledge on the following issues. First, the factors that determine identity strategies will be outlined. Second, the inter- nal debates within the communities relating to these cultural encounters will be examined with acknowl- edgement that different communal actors compete for influence and that variables such as gender, generation and migration patterns also have an impact. Third, the perceptions of these encounters in the host coun- tries will be identified at both state and societal level. Finally, the relations between the communities and other migrants from the homeland will be explored with reference to experiences in the homeland. Through in- terviews, fieldwork, archival research and workshops, this project will address Middle Eastern Christian mi- grant experiences from a social and cultural perspective while analysing the implications of these encounters, thus contributing to a wider understanding of the im- pact of faith-based communities on European states and societies.

Associated Partners: 

AP-1: Ms Doris Peschke, Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, General Secretary, BE, doris.