The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Transnational Young People of African Migrant Backgrounds

ABOUT US

  • 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.

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.

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

Our Team

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United Kingdom
  • Dominic Pasura is the Principal Investigator of the ‘Religious and Spiritual Lives of Transnational Young People of African Migrant Background’ project and a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom. His areas of research interest include African studies, transnational relations and processes, diaspora studies and the sociology of religion. He is the author of African Transnational Diasporas: Fractured Communities and Plural Identities of Zimbabweans in Britain (2014). He co-edited the academic volume Migration, Transnationalism, and Catholicism: Global Perspectives (2016) and the Routledge Handbook of Contemporary African Migration (2023), which offers an authoritative multi-disciplinary overview of contemporary African international migration.

    https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/socialpolitical/staff/dominicpasura/

    https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7155-1107

  • Sarah Kazira is a Sociology PhD student at the University of Glasgow. Her research focuses on the digital placemaking activities of young individuals with migrant backgrounds. Her primary interest involves capturing, analysing, and exploring narratives that influence people’s identities, beliefs, and interactions.

    PhD profile link: https://www.gla.ac.uk/pgrs/sarahkazira/#

  • Angela Malle is the Project Administration Assistant and arranges the monthly project meetings, any travel, catering, and rooms required. She also monitors the project budget and assists with this and a further 2 research projects. She has worked within higher education for almost a decade and has vast knowledge and experience of working in this environment. She is committed to delivering first class service and is happy to help with any other ad hoc admin requests.

  • Dr Nomatter Sande, who holds a PhD in Religion and Social Transformation, is a Research Associate at the University of Glasgow. His area of expertise is at the intersection of religion, migration and pastoral ministry. He has published extensively on African religions, including African traditional religions, Pentecostal Christianity and liberation theology in the African context and diaspora in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Religion in Africa, Journal for the Study of the Religions of Africa and its Diaspora, and edited books, including Gendered Spaces, Religion and Migration in Zimbabwe: Implications for Economic Development (2022) and Religion and Inequality in Africa (2023).

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Nigeria
  • Dodeye Uduak Williams is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Calabar, Nigeria with over twenty (20) years of academic work experience. Dr. Williams is a former Commonwealth Scholar with the Center for African Studies (2008-2009), University of Edinburgh, UK. She teaches strategic studies, peace and conflict studies, and other related courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science (Nigeria), Master of Science in International Relations (Nigeria), a Master of Arts in Contemporary Global Security (Sheffield, United Kingdom), and a Doctorate degree in International Relations (Nigeria). Her current research interests tend to interrogate the complexities of the phenomena of politics, terrorism, violent extremism, and counterterrorism, particularly religious terrorism within the context of contemporary armed conflicts in Africa. She is also currently a Research Fellow at the Institute for Gender Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, UNISA.

  • Dr. Ntongha Eni Ikpi is a Lecturer 1 at the Department of Sociology, University of Calabar, Nigeria. He specialises in Medical Sociology, Anthropology, and religion. His research in Medical Sociology and Anthropology focuses on health behaviour modification, health promotion, and the promotion of cultural and religious tolerance among different groups. He has a very strong interest in qualitative research and is a strong advocate of gender parity and community development through self-help.

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Zimbabwe
  • Ezra Chitando serves as Professor, History of Religion, University of Zimbabwe; Extraordinary Professor, Desmond Tutu Centre for Social Justice, University of the Western Cape (South Africa) and Knowledge Management Advisor, Faith to Action Network. His research, social engagement and publication areas revolve around religion and social justice. These include religion and: youth, migration, health, development, sexuality, security, gender, politics, climate change, violence, food sovereignty, disability, decoloniality and others.

  • Dr Reggemore Marongedze is a literary critic, linguist, ethnomusicologist and digital humanist. He holds a BA Honours in Shona, MA in African Languages and Literature from University of Zimbabwe and a PhD in Languages, Linguistics and Literature from University of South Africa. His multidisciplinary knowledge enables a multidimensional dissection of the experiences of young African migrants in a transnational context and employing innovative multimedia approaches to share these narratives. Reggemore’s literary, linguistic, musical and digital proficiencies provide a unique lenses for unpacking the intricate theoretical, cultural, artistic, cybernetic, historical and linguistic nuances within the spiritual lives of transnational African youth.

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South Africa
  • Prof Bernard Matolino is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pretoria. His research interests in African political theory is well-suited for this project as he is interested in the effect that broken African states have on vulnerable individuals. He is interested in representing the voice of the marginalised and excluded.

    UP Website link: https://www.up.ac.za/philosophy/article/42830/staff

  • Dr Sibusisiwe Mlambo, who holds a Masters’ degree in Community Development and a PhD in Public Management with a special focus on Peacebuilding, is a Research Associate at the University of Pretoria. Her research revolves around intervention strategies for the current violence by young people, and the intergenerational transmission of trauma and violence suffered by the older generation, who were actively engaged in the political struggle during Apartheid South Africa. She is interested in healing through storytelling and promoting peaceful coexistence for everyone, be it foreign nationals or local people.

Young People’s Advisory Group

The team is supported by a group of national and international experts in the subject, as well as young people with firsthand experience of the issues.

  • Jami Abramson works with a charity called Ethnic Minorities & Youth Support Team (EYST). EYST was established in 2005 to ensure all ethnic minority young people could reach their full potential in Wales. Working with EYST since 2014, Jami supports young people by providing opportunities to explore identity (including culture, faith, and heritage) and migration in a Welsh context. She has also trained young peer researchers to explore the cumulative impact of racism upon ethnic minority young people in the Welsh education system.

    In collaboration with EYST Wales, Jami is undertaking her PhD in Human Geography at Swansea University. Her research entitled “Sensing Wales: conflicting identities and belonging for ethnic minority young people in Wales” aims to explore ethnic minority young people’s experiences with places, particularly in relation to their idea of identity and sense of self.

  • Abiodun James Aderele (B.A.ED English Language (OAU Ile-Ife), B.A. Religious Studies (ACU, Oyo), MDiv Th., Mphil., PhD(World Religions) “in View” (NBTS, Ogbomoso). He is a Baptist minister and theological educator who serves as an Associate Director (Research and Partnerships) & Journal Editor at the Institute of Family Life and Societal Development, Akure, Ondo State. He has lectured at the Baptist College of Theology, Igede-Ekiti and held Teaching Assistant position at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso. He has authored a book, chapters in books and journal articles nationally and internationally on Religious Theologies, Missiology, Comparative Religion, and Peace and Conflict Studies. Research on “The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Transnational Young People of African Migrant Background” is an extension of his research in religion.

  • Tinotenda Hondo works with a charity called Plan International,  and is a passionate champion for human rights and social justice.  She works with children and young people, focusing on gender equality, girls rights and inclusion.  Tino brings a wide range of experience in research and developing programmes across various areas and contexts including education, SRHR, youth empowerment and leadership among others.  She is also a lead trainer in gender equality, faith-based approaches, social norm change etc. A psychologist by training, Tino is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Counselling Psychology at Great Zimbabwe University. 

  • I am Adeniyi Taiwo Grace, a 300L applied psychology student at the University of Lagos. My field of study, which translates to Guidance and Counselling, has helped me develop a particular enthusiasm and interest in being a member of the Young People Advisory Group (YPAG).

  • Dr. Thabani Mutambasere is a Lecturer in African Studies and International Development in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. His interdisciplinary research interests include, but are not limited to, African diasporas, particularly how they contribute to their countries of origin via non-economic routes such as politics, development, and humanitarianism. Thabani’s previous work also includes religious transnationalism, specifically how Zimbabwean Catholics in the UK contribute to the development of their country of origin through charitable and humanitarian acts. He also explores diaspora citizenship, belonging, identity, transnationalism and the notion of food as remittances.
    Link to the University of Edinburgh page:

    https://www.sps.ed.ac.uk/staff/thabani-mutambasere

  • Ismaeel Oladunni works with an Islamic and Cultural Welfare trust called the Nigerian Muslim Association Birmingham (NIMAB). NIMAB was established in 2002 to serve as a center of excellence, to propagate Islamic and Nigerian culture among its members. Working with NIMAB Ismaeel teaches young members Islamic education during the weekends. He has trained young members during a summer program on Islamic and Nigerian (Yoruba) culture education. Ismaeel is a B.Ed, M.Ed holder in Educational Management and Economics from University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He is currently on another Masters in International Business with Human Management at Ulster University, Birmingham Campus, United Kingdom.

  • Akinmayowa Akin-Otiko, is a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies, University of Lagos. He is a Principal Investigator in the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies (BA). His research interest cuts across the religionscultures and medicine of the Africans. He engages in theory development in African Studies and conflict resolutions. He has written books on the indigenous religions of the Yoruba and well as their medicine. He is currently a PI and co-PI on different projects such as a Cluster funded project entitled, Ethics Dumping Across Africa, and the African Realities Project of the NAGEL Institute, Calvin University, USA.

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.

Publications

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News

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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

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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.