group of young African women sitting together and talking and smiling in a restaurant
group of young African women sitting together and talking and smiling in a restaurant
UKRI Economic and Social Research Council logo

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and we are very grateful for their support.

About the Project

The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Transnational Young People of African Migrant Backgrounds is a three-year ESRC-funded project (May 2023 to May 2026). The study aims to develop a more thorough understanding of the role of religion and spirituality in constructing youth identities and a sense of belonging among transnational young people (aged 15-35) of Nigerian and Zimbabwean migrant backgrounds in London and Birmingham (United Kingdom), Lagos (Nigeria), Harare (Zimbabwe) and Johannesburg (South Africa). We will investigate young people categorised as ‘first- and second-generation’ and ‘left behind’, combining migrant-origin and migrant-receiving countries. In doing so, the project will advance our knowledge of the ways migration impacts young people’s religious and spiritual lives at home and abroad.

  • To investigate whether and how religion and spirituality hinder the integration of 'first- and second-generation' youths of Nigerian and Zimbabwean migrant backgrounds in the UK society.

    To investigate whether and how 'first- and second-generation' youths of Nigerian and Zimbabwean migrant backgrounds in the UK use religion and spirituality to create and maintain transnational ties with Africa.

    To explore the role of religion and spirituality in shaping the 'left-behind' youth in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and South Africa's everyday routines and practices, belonging and identity within the transnational social field.

    To understand how context shapes transnational young people's religious and spiritual lives by considering the effects of specific locations, colonial history, postcolonial politics, and the changing dynamics of migration.

    To advance conceptual understandings of the relationship between migration and religion through a case study of transnational young people of Nigerian and Zimbabwean migrant backgrounds in the UK and Africa.

    Through this project, we aim to go beyond previous research and existing policy discourses that adopt a binary approach to the movement and identities of young people of migrant background primarily in terms of ‘first- and second-generation’ or ‘left-behind’, Global North or Global South in order to emphasise the multi-directional movements of young people, ideas and religious practices. We want to shift away from the dominant focus on organised religion towards a focus on ‘lived religion’, which allows for an exploration of young people’s everyday practices and identities.

    In contexts of increasing migration-related diversity, where polarisation in society over religious diversity is growing, the project will use its findings to understand better transnational migration processes and the social cohesion of the increasingly multi-religious and multi-cultural UK and African societies.

  • This is a multi-site and comparative research project. It brings together international scholars and key stakeholders interested in the study of religion and migration between the UK and Africa. We study the religious and spiritual lives of young people in four countries (the responsible institution in brackets): United Kingdom (University of Glasgow), Nigeria (University of Calabar), Zimbabwe (University of Zimbabwe) and South Africa (University of Pretoria). We focus on young people living in urban neighbourhoods and practitioners of Christian, Muslim and African Indigenous Religions.

    The project utilises an innovative set of intensive mixed-method qualitative approaches, including document analysis, ethnographic observations, biographical and key informant interviews. Data collection and analysis methods have been chosen to facilitate a qualitative and youth-centred approach that places the most apparent emphasis on knowledge obtained directly from young people.

  • The project involves the collaboration of four universities and five project partners in the United Kingdom and Africa, with the University of Glasgow assuming the role of project leader. This project is funded by the UK Research and Innovation’s Economic and Social Research Council under grant reference number ES/X002276/1. It started on 15 May 2023 and will run until 14 May 2026.

Research Participants

We want to learn about the religious and spiritual lives of transnational young people of Nigerian and Zimbabwean migrant backgrounds (aged 15-35) living in London, Birmingham, Harare, Johannesburg and Lagos, and who practise Christian, Muslim and African Indigenous Religions.

Follow the links below to find out what the research is about, what it involves and how to contact us:

United Kingdom flag

United Kingdom

✓ I live in London or Birmingham
✓ I am 15-35 years old
✓ I have a Nigerian and/or Zimbabwean background
✓ I have lived in the UK for 5+ years

Nigeria flag

Nigeria

✓ I live in Lagos
✓ I am 15-35 years old
✓ I have a Nigerian background
✓ 1 or both of my parents live abroad

Zimbabwe flag

Zimbabwe

✓ I live in Harare
✓ I am 15-35 years old
✓ I have a Zimbabwean background
✓ 1 or both of my parents live abroad

South Africa flag

South Africa

✓ I live in Johannesburg
✓ I am 15-35 years old
✓ I have a Nigerian and/or
Zimbabwean background

young African woman selling in a local market smiling while using her mobile phone
African girl, praying hands holding cross and beads
Young African people playing on drums outdoors

Project Partners

The project involves a consortium of four universities and five project partners in the United Kingdom and Africa, with the University of Glasgow assuming the role of project leader.

Profile of Peace Building and Community Development Initiative (PEBCOD)

PEBCOD is a development focus Non-Governmental, not for profit, and non-political organization based in Calabar, Cross River State. Registered with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission, PEBCOD uses integrated approaches to facilitate peace and implement health and developmental programmes in communities.  Focus areas include reproductive health and gender, HIV/AIDS, drug and substance abuse, women/youth empowerment, and child labour/trafficking. A researcher and an academic leads the organization’s team of dedicated colleagues and volunteers that collaborate and partners with institutions and organizations in our core programs.

The engagement and partnership with the University of Glasgow on the project is inline with the mandates of the organization.

RESPONSIBLE PERSON FOR THE PARTNERSHIP: DR. (MRS.) VERONICA AKWENABUAYE UNDELIKWO

United Kingdom flag

Participate in our research

To help explore the role of religion and spirituality in constructing youth identities

 

If you
  • live in Birmingham or London
  • are aged between 15-35
  • have a Nigerian or Zimbabwean background
  • have lived in the UK for 5+ years
then we would like to hear from you
Nigeria flag

Participate in our research

To help explore the role of religion and spirituality in constructing youth identities

 

If you
  • live in Lagos
  • are aged between 15-35
  • have a Nigerian background
  • have 1 or both parents living abroad
then we would like to hear from you

Note: the following links are not yet live but please check back soon

Zimbabwe flag

Participate in our research

To help explore the role of religion and spirituality in constructing youth identities

 

If you
  • live in Harare
  • are aged between 15-35
  • have a Zimbabwean background
  • have 1 or both parents living abroad
then we would like to hear from you

Note: the following links are not yet live but please check back soon

South Africa flag

Participate in our research

To help explore the role of religion and spirituality in constructing youth identities

 

If you
  • live in Johannesburg
  • are aged between 15-35
  • have a Nigerian and/or Zimbabwean background
then we would like to hear from you

Note: the following links are not yet live but please check back soon

Profile of Zimbabwe Diaspora Network UK (ZDN UK)

The Zimbabwe Diaspora Network UK is a UK-wide non-partisan civic Zimbabwean Diaspora Association that serves as a hub for UK-based Diaspora. It serves as one of the effective conduits for UK- Zimbabwean Diaspora in respect of providing a focused lobby for the interests of Zimbabweans across the age spectrum providing developmental networking opportunities for young people and adults in mentoring and community engagement to meet the evolving needs of its members holistically. It is led by an Executive Committee with Dr Paul Matsvai being the Chairman and serving as the main contact point for the research project. It is part of the global Zimbabwe Diaspora Nation Building Initiative (ZDNBI) of which Dr Paul Matsvai is also serving as the Chief Executive Officer.