Based on ethnographic research by an interdisciplinary team of scholars and activists, Religion at the Corner of Bliss and Nirvana illuminates the role that religion plays in the civic and political experiences of new migrants in the United States. By bringing innovative questions and theoretical frameworks to bear on the experiences of Chinese, Filipino, Mexican, Salvadoran, and Vietnamese migrants, the contributors demonstrate how groups and individuals negotiate multiple religious, cultural, and national identities, and how religious faiths are transformed through migration. Taken together, their essays show that migrants’ religious lives are much more than replications of home in a new land. They reflect a process of adaptation to new physical and cultural environments, and an ongoing synthesis of cultural elements from the migrants’ countries of origin and the United States.
As they conducted research, the contributors not only visited churches and temples but also single-room-occupancy hotels, brothels, tattoo-removal clinics, and the streets of San Francisco, El Salvador, Mexico, and Vietnam. Their essays include an exploration of how faith-based organizations can help LGBT migrants surmount legal and social complexities, an examination of transgendered sex workers’ relationship with the unofficial saint Santisima Muerte, a comparison of how a Presbyterian mission and a Buddhist temple in San Francisco help Chinese immigrants to acculturate, and an analysis of the transformation of baptismal rites performed by Mayan migrants. The voices of gang members, Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhist nuns, members of Pentecostal churches, and many others animate this collection. In the process of giving voice to these communities, the contributors interrogate theories about acculturation, class, political and social capital, gender and sexuality, the sociology of religion, transnationalism, and globalization. The collection includes twenty-one photographs by Jerry Berndt.
Contributors. Luis Enrique Bazan, Kevin M. Chun, Hien Duc Do, Patricia Fortuny Loret de Mola, Joaquin Jay Gonzalez III, Sarah Horton, Cymene Howe, Mimi Khúc, Jonathan H. X. Lee, Lois Ann Lorentzen, Andrea Maison, Dennis Marzan, Rosalina Mira, Claudine del Rosario, Susanna Zaraysky