New Forms of Religious Transnationalism and Development Initiatives

The role of migrants' remittances in development has attracted considerable research attention, but the transmission of 'social remittances' (ideas, norms and values) and their impact in migrants' home countries and the role of diaspora religious organisations in the North in funding development activities that go beyond traditional concerns with migrants' immediate communities are relatively neglected.

The range and diversity of communities of South Asian origin in the UK (Sikhs from Punjab, Muslims from Pakistan, and Hindus from Gujarat etc) offers an opportunity to study these developments.

The aim of this component is to improve understanding of the role of new religious transnational movements and their contribution to development in their 'homelands', in India. The study will:

  • conduct case studies of faith-based organisations (FBOs) based in UK diaspora communities, to examine their values and beliefs, concepts of development, strategies for resource mobilisation, decision making and operational functioning in engaging with development projects
  • conduct case studies of selected development projects funded by UK-based FBOs to assess patterns of expenditure, organisational arrangements and outcomes
  • assess the impact of such development projects on local processes of development, especially poverty reduction, and the extent to which they reach poor men and women and other socially disadvantaged groups
  • evaluate the impact of engagement with the development process on the religious identities of UK-based organisations' membership and on the recipients of development projects in the South.

Criteria for selection of UK-based organisations will be developed in conjunction with country research teams. The methodological approach will be case-study based and largely qualitative, although local socio-economic statistics, official data on remittances and village records will be used where available.

This project will be undertaken between December 2008 and March 2010.

Research team

Professor Gurharpal Singh, School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham

Country team leaders

India Dr Darshan Tatla, Lyallpur Khalsa college, Punjab
India Charlene Simon, Centre for the Study of India and South Asia (Centre d’Etudes de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud, EHESS/ Paris)