December 16, 2009
Dr. Suna Gülfer Ihlamur
ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN ITALY:
THE CONSTRUCTION OF ROMANIANITALIAN TRANSNATIONAL ORTHODOX SPACE
It is discussed in this seminar the role religious institutions play in the articulation of transnational ties as well as the processes through which transnational migration triggers structural and socio-cultural changes in the way religious life is organized and experienced. In particular, it is analyzed the way in which the Romanian Orthodox Church (ROC) acts, organizes and positions itself within the religious landscape of Italy following the mass immigration of Romanians, its adaptive practices and socio-religious role within the receiving context and implications of this experience within the sending context as well as the extent of the ROC’s agency within the Romanian-Italian transnational migration space. The transnational agency of the ROC in constructing and maintaining the Romanian-Italian transnational landscape is analyzed and evaluated based on the empirical data collected throughout the fieldwork from December 2006 up until September 2008 in Italy and in Romania. The evidence from the field work demonstrates that the ROCs and Romanian Orthodox communities in Italy go through important changes, as could be observed in the transformation of the ROCs into community centers and main representatives and reproducers of ethno-religious identity, the transformation in the role of the Romanian Orthodox priests who become community leaders and main agents in community building, increasing migrant religiosity as an adaptive means and as an important element in reconstruction of the migrant’s identity and the transnationalization of the parish church and communities through the formation of network of churches in Italy and Europe and articulation of transnational ties with the sending context.