The African Diaspora and Christianity in Australia:

New Perspectives on Materiality, Media and Religion

Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

About the Project

In the past two decades, Australia has received a growing number of people from the African continent. Funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project (2019-2023), this project explores the role of Christianity in the lives of African migrants and refugees in Australia. It seeks to understand how translocal and transnational religious networks support African communities to overcome the challenges of local settlement.

“Online Worship Service” by Pastor Samuel Majok

For many migrants and refugees, their settlement experiences are complicated and shaped by a combination of people’s migration histories, their experiences of arrival and reception, ongoing contacts with continuing events in their countries of origin (especially via the internet and social media), and the ease with which they are able to navigate bureaucratic structures and services in their new home.

African communities in Australia are diverse in terms of migration journey, ethnicity, language, religion, legal status and social class. Yet are often considered as a homogenous community. Africans in Australia have often been associated with poor settlement outcomes, and in recent years have made the transition from being considered “good refugees” (especially in the case of the South Sudanese) to being on the receiving end of racialised moral panic regarding so-called ‘African gangs.’

One of the ways in which members of this population respond to the challenges they face is through their religious practices and community.

Anna Dimo

The Chief Investigators (CI) Richard Vokes (UWA) and Cristina Rocha (WSU) and the Associate Researcher Kathleen Openshaw (WSU) share responsibility for the work on this project, including the preparatory research, the fieldwork, and the final writing up. Vokes is conducting research in Perth and Cairns, and Rocha and Openshaw are conducting fieldwork in Sydney. They share the fieldwork in Melbourne.

The project includes a PhD candidate funded by Western Sydney University. Ms Gisele Ishimwe, originally from Rwanda, is conducting research on young Africans, leadership and Pentecostalism in Australia.

Funding body: Australian Research Council (AUD$ 279,000)

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