Minority Politics and Transnational Networks of Religious Social Activism

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Joanildo BURITY, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Brazil
Current forms of public of religion in many parts of the world contrast with received social-scientific wisdom about the (decreasing) vitality and relevance of religions in contemporary, complex societies. In the two-thirds world of former European colonies, such vitality and relevance is coupled with the emergence of religious minorities claiming not just recognition but also political representation of some sort. However, the emerging profiles are far from uniform or cast in terms of an opposition between religious and secular. Long-standing forms of religious transnational activism associated with the ecumenical movement and recent patterns of minority politics have crossed ways, forming a web of religious organisations and social activists that promote radical, grassroots-based forms of local and global policy agendas and collective action. Combining more traditional emphasis on mobilising the poor for social change, this web of religious actors have also strongly endorsed claims to racial, gender, sexual and environmental justice, through community-, state- and transnational-level repertoires of action. This paper explores, based on comparative research done in the UK, Brazil and Argentina, this pattern of public religion disconnected from claims to self-representation and inspired by repertoires of global activism originating in Christian ecumenism. Organisations, networks and key (bridging) activists operating at least in two of the three countries are studied in terms of the nodes of interaction formed by their various connections and participation in wider mobilisations. The analysis combines elements of Casanova's problematic of public religion, Connolly's concept of minoritisation, Laclau's concept of populism and various approaches to transnational social activism.