In November 2015 Birkbeck University’s Dr Ben Gidley gave a lecture at CIRIS on Christian, Muslim, and Jewish diaspora communities in London. Here CIRIS research associates Margot Dazey and Chris Moses ask Gidley about the state of diasporic research, his own research on diaspora groups within London’s famously diverse East End, and the policy implications of such research.
CIRIS: Can you tell us about the main aims of the Oxford Diasporas Programme, as well as those of your specific project?
Gidley: I think there’s been a big turning towards the concept of diaspora across a number of disciplines recently and the term had sort of spiraled off into all sorts of different meanings. So, part of the intention of the Oxford Diasporas Programme—which has been running for almost five years now—was to take stock of the state of play and have a bit of conceptual clarity around the concept.
Another part was to take a number of different disciplinary and methodological approaches—ethnographic in particular but many others—and to develop case studies of diaspora in a number of different contexts, in particular ones which have been less researched or which have pushed the concept a little bit. Within that, our project at COMPAS was about East London, and diasporic associational politics, looking at three faiths from 1880 to the present.
CIRIS: Why did you start in 1880?
Gidley: 1880 is a significant moment. The last two decades of the Victorian period are when the East End as we know it now really came into being. In the 1880s we saw the Jack the Ripper killings, a whole series of investigative reports on white slaving and child labour and so on in the East End. And that coincides with mass Jewish migration, which began at the very end of the 1870s and picked up rapidly through the 1880s. By the end of the 1880s, the East End was seen as a kind of Jewish quarter.
CIRIS: What would you say have been the main religious trajectories of the East End since 1880?
11 Jan. 2016 – CIRIS is pleased to announce the release of a new policy report by Aston University’s Lucian Leustean, Eastern Christianity and Politics. In the report, Leustean explores the tensions within Eastern Orthodoxy, particularly with reference to the geopolitical situation in Ukraine, as the world anticipates an historic synod of the Orthodox Church in 2016.
This report was commissioned by CIRIS on behalf of the Transatlantic Policy Network on Religion and Diplomacy (TPNRD). CIRIS’s role as the secretariat for the TPNRD is a partnership with George Mason University and is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Lucian Leustean is a Reader in Politics and International Relations at Aston University where he has been teaching since 2007. From 2011 to 2014, he was the Associate Dean for Postgraduate Programmes in the School of Languages and Social Sciences. He studied international relations, law and theology in Bucharest and completed his PhD at the London School of Economics.