“They Said Here Is a Christian Country”: How Ghanaians in Houston Employ Christianity to Claim Sociopolitical and Cultural Belonging

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Anima ADJEPONG, The University of Texas at Austin, USA
How does Christianity help a loosely bound black West African immigrant community articulate their political, economic, and cultural belonging within the U.S.? Based on ethnographic observations and in-depth interviews, this paper explores how and to what ends Ghanaian immigrants in Houston, Texas invoke logics of Pentecostal Christianity and prosperity gospels in their everyday lives. Scholars of religion and immigration have noted the limitations of studying immigrant religions entirely within a religious setting. These scholars note how an exclusive focus on churches, mosques, or shrines fails to address how people live their religion outside of these settings and how religious logics organize their daily lives. Similarly, research on race and religion explore how these are mutually constituted to shape people’s behaviors and attitudes towards the government, international relations, and cultural formations among other things. Bringing together these important critiques about studying religion, this paper offers an analysis of how, in community settings and on a daily basis, black immigrants employ their Christian affiliations to augment their claims to respectability and affirm their belonging in their local and national sociopolitical landscapes.