• Between Israel and the Holy Land, between the Global and the Local: The Role of African Initiated Churches within African Transnational Migration to Israel

    In this paper I examine, in the context of transnational migration, the role of African churches that were initiated and operated by African labor migrants in Israel between the late 1990s and 2008. The focus is on the expanding sociopolitical arena of the churches, paying special attention to the bridges they tried to create between their members and Christianity in the Holy Land, sister churches back home, and similar churches in other, non-African countries (mainly in Europe and North America). On a more theoretical level, I show how focusing on the expanding role of the churches—an expansion that was both inward, to satisfy the ever-increasing needs of the churches’ members, and outward, to the “world”—offers a unique contribution to our understanding of transnational diasporic Christianity. It also enables us to better understand African labor migrants as active agents in the complex processes of shaping their own religious identity, thus creating what I term “transnational mobile Christianity,” or “transnational Christianity in motion.” The paper is based on qualitative ethnography, including over two hundred open-ended, in-depth interviews held in Israel, Europe, and West Africa, conducted mostly in English, as well as over a thousand hours of observations of different church-related activities.

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