'Latin American migration, Evangelical Christianity and gender in Italy'.

Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Working Papers, European University Institute, 2016.

This publication was based on a project funded by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship of the European Commission, European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Global Governance Programme, 'Migrant Christianity. Migration, Religion and Work in Comparative Perspective: Evangelical ‘ethnic churches’ in Southern Europe', 2015-2018, project n. 652925.

Protestant Evangelical churches are expanding in the global South. In Europe too, while Christian confessions such as Catholicism and ‘mainline’ Protestant churches are losing worshippers, migration-driven Evangelical churches, especially Pentecostals, are growing. This paper investigates the role of faith and Evangelical churches in helping migrants to negotiate class demotion and integration, attain respectability and resist racialization. The paper applies a gender perspective to the study of the narratives and practices of Latin American men and women who are members of an Evangelical church in Italy. It finds that the church provides its members with gendered norms, enabling men and women to identify with valued models of feminine/masculine Christian morality and respectability. Through religious participation, migrants members may dissociate from dominant stigmatising representations of Latin American drunkards, ‘gangs’, ‘broken families’ and ‘bad mothers’ as well as from Pentecostal religious practices, which are regarded as ‘unorthodox’ in Italy. The paper also identifies generational differences in the way in which migrants make use of Evangelical religion to resist racism. Finally, the analysis points to ambivalent processes of ‘domestication’ of migrant men and of migrant women’s agency, which combine with an overall resilient gendered asymmetry in the distribution of power in the church.

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