• Jennie Feldrup Kristoffersen
4. term, Global Refugee Studies, Master (Master Programme)
Focusing on how Eritrean refugees in Denmark spend their time, I uncovered a trend that the vast majority of them regularly attend church, and the majority are Eritrean Orthodox Christian. This thesis sets out to examine why religion, and specifically Christianity, is important to and prioritized by Eritrean refugees in Denmark, with the guiding sub-research questions: “How does religion influence Eritrean refugees' feeling of belonging?” and “How might coming from a totalitarian dictatorship effect Eritrean refugees’ involvement in church?”

The empirical data of this thesis is based on interviews conducted with Eritrean refugees living in Denmark, as well as participant observation. To explain and understand the trends seen in the fieldwork, the thesis draws on Charles Hirshman’s (2004) theory on belonging to look at Eritrean refugees’ participation in church in Denmark. It is suggested that participation in church in Denmark can be seen as a way to feel a sense of belonging, and as a way for them to continue to participate in the community familiar to them from their home country.

This thesis also draws on Michael Bernhard and Ekrem Karakoç (2007) to look at the effects of coming from a totalitarian dictatorship, which helped explain the extent that Eritreans’ participation in Danish society revolves around the church rather than other social activities. It explained that church is one of the only organized activities that is permitted in Eritrea, and it continues to be the primary activity that they participate in after moving to Denmark.

Through the research carried out for this thesis, some insight was gained into why and how religion might be approached as a key factor in where Eritrean refugees find their belonging and spend their time in Denmark. The thesis demonstrates that Eritrean refugees’ experience of living in a totalitarian dictatorship has led to lasting effects whereby there is a longer adjustment period in which they adapt to the freedom they now have to participate in a wide variety of social organizations and activities without any restriction.
LanguageEnglish
Publication date15 Oct 2019
Number of pages61
ID: 312477431