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Diversity, Migration and Activism

Monday, June 27, 2022
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM


Dr Linda Vikdahl
Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor
Södertörn University/ Red Cross University

The Church of Sweden’s conditions for working among refugees and newly arrived

Individual Paper

In year 2015, 160 000 persons sought for asylum in Sweden, many of them fleeing from the war in Syria. Since 2015 the possibility of entering Sweden has been reduced, due to political decisions. The corresponding number for 2019 was 22 000.
Refugees constitute a particularly vulnerable group of migrants in terms of health and social conditions. For instance, studies have shown that refugees resettled in Western countries are much more likely to experience depression, anxiety and/or post-traumatic stress disorders than age-matched general populations in those countries.
Community involvement and participation in various social activities, networks and communities after migration has been shown to be important for increasing well-being and reducing mental illness among refugees and newly arrived. Civil societies organization, such as religious communities, can promote improved mental health and improve integration and access to the host country’s labour market.
This paper examines the Church of Sweden’s conditions for working among refugees and newly arrived. The Church of Sweden is not only the biggest religious institution in the country, also it is the biggest civil society organization with 5,7 million members (=55% of the Swedish population). The study focuses on what affects the church’s conditions to conduct activities for refugees and newly arrived, and what influences how these activities should be conducted. The analysis is based on interviews with parish employees in four parishes, in four different parts of the country.
Mr Bernhard Rotzer
PhD Student
College Of Teacher Education Valais

Tolerance in postmodern society among young people

Individual Paper

Contrary to modernity, in which a universal truth claimed hegemony and did not allow for ambivalences, according to Zygmunt Bauman, the postmodern world speaks out against any homogeneous universalising tendencies and instead relies on social plurality and individual self-realisation.

Based on these facts, this paper will explore the following questions. Do young people today advocate social plurality and can their values be brought into harmony with postmodernity, or do young people have constructs of modernity in which social homogeneity is endorsed? Based on this question, this article will also work out what significance can be attributed to tolerance among young people.

In order to get to the bottom of these questions, 36 school assignments of 16 and 17 year old adolescents were evaluated in a bilingual school (German/French) in Switzerland, which were created in the years 2020 and 2021. The pupils were given the task of writing a text about a person of their choice from the world of ethics and religions in history or the present. In doing so, the young people had to place particular focus on the thought and action and, at the end, justify what influence the chosen person can have in the 21st century. The data is evaluated inductively using grounded theory according to Anselm Strauss and categorically ordered through an iterative process in order to gain insights into the meaning of tolerance in the context of postmodernity.
Ms Vera Ericson von Bahr
PhD Student
Södertörn University

Sanctuary in Germany: a historical background

Individual Paper

This paper is part of the on-going PHD-project "Occupying Sacred Space", which began in September 2021. The study explores how religious buildings in Germany have been occupied by or for migrants during two time periods: the years around the end of the Cold War and what is known as the refugee crisis in 2015. During these times, debates about migration and asylum have been heated in Germany, and religious actors have become involved in challenging restrictive asylum policies by letting migrants who fear deportation find sanctuary in their religious space. The aim of the study is to explore the work of the religious congregations, if their roles have changed between the two time periods, and whether and how religious actors are regaining influence in the public sphere by engaging in migration work. To investigate this, material collected from German archives will be analyzed in combination with interviews with members of the congregations involved. The study draws upon theoretical perspectives from the fields of religion and migration, secularization, and spatiality.

This paper presents the dissertation project and provides a historical background to how religious buildings have been used as shelters for migrants in Germany from the 1980’s and forward. It further exemplifies how the phenomenon can be understood and contextualized in relation to concepts of spatiality, secularization, and the securitization of migration.


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Prof Brian Bocking
Professor (Full)
University College Cork