Accepted paper:

Crossing religious borders and identities in Denmark and Brazil: a comparative perspective


Tina Gudrun Jensen (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is about crossing religious boundaries in the different contexts of Denmark and Brazil. It explores the ways social actors by converting to ethnic minority religions experience and relate to sameness and otherness in their `hybrid´ constructions of self-identity.

Paper long abstract:

Religion shares features with analytical categories such as race and class; consequently religious conversion may be conceptualised as a transformation of identity in several ways. In particular the act of converting to an ethnic minority religion tends to be perceived as a means of cultural critique, a revolt against the national community, and thus as a dissent that unsettles the boundaries by which selfhood, nationhood and community are defined. This perspective also indicates creation of new and hybrid identities. The proposed paper is based on a comparative field study of ethnic majority populations´ conversions to ethnic minority religions, i.e. Danes´ conversion to Islam in Denmark and white middle-class Brazilians´ conversions to Afro-Brazilian Candomblé in South East Brazil. The aim of the paper is to explore and compare how the different social actors (the converts) deal with otherness represented by respectively immigrants and descendants of former slave populations and the different ways they relate to and experience sameness and otherness, inclusion and exclusion in their constructions of self-identity. By that the paper aims to show how ways of conceptualising sameness, otherness and hybridity is conditioned by different national contexts for constructing ethnic and racial identities.

panel W063
Migrations: of borders, crossings and ambivalent identities