Dear Workshop,

On Thursday, May 12th, April Manalang, Ph.D. Candidate in American Culture Studies, Bowling Green University will present her dissertation proposal,

“How and to What Extent Do Religious Communities Connect Immigrants to the Public Sphere? Imagining a Different Self-Understanding of Modernity”

Time: 12:00, Thursday, May 12, 2011

Place: Swift Hall, Room 400

Food: Snacks provided, feel free to bring your lunch!

Paper: Copies of the essay are available by emailing

I am including the abstract from April’s paper below.

To date, immigration, religion, and race and ethnicity scholars have contributed to the debate about the role of religion in modern society, highlighting the salience and vital role of religion among post-1965 immigrants. In this dissertation, I will explore the following question: How and to what extent do religious communities connect immigrants to the public sphere? To that end, I investigate: 1) Will religious communities more strongly connect immigrants to the public sphere as compared to civic organizations? 2) To what extent will religious communities foster transnational ties to the homeland as compared to civic organizations and how do these ties help connect immigrants to the U.S. public sphere?

In order to address these questions, I will employ a humanistically oriented-sociological approach, focus on Filipino-Americans’ stories and experiences, immerse myself in “lived religion,”[1] engage in participant observation, conduct in-depth interviews (of Filipino-Americans age 18 and above), and distribute surveys in Virginia Beach, Virginia—one of the most highly populated Filipino areas on the East coast.

This dissertation advances existing literature by exploring the religious diversity of understudied religious and ethnic communities, such as Filipino-Americans, and thus shed light on the role of religion among America’s newer wave (post-1965) of immigrants. I will position Filipino-Americans as a lens through which to advance a more nuanced analysis of religious pluralism and emerging multiple modernities[2] in the United States. This research will allow scholars to imagine a modern model of immigrant integration through the lens of our emerging religious pluralism. Because very little research on religion, immigration, and race and ethnicity comparatively explores religious communities vis-a-vis civic organizations, my research aims to shed light on how immigrants civically engage within and outside their respective immigrant communities. Further, this research will clarify the extent that religious communities connect immigrants to participate in the public sphere as compared to civic organizations. Moreover, through investigating a highly transnational and diasporic group, this scholarship explores the relationship between transnational practices and immigrant incorporation. Overall, my research will explore on how religious communities influence immigrants’ self-understanding of citizenship. Since religion is largely neglected in the field of cultural studies (Eck, 1999), yet is a burgeoning area of interest in sociology (Smith, 2005), my research will fill this gap in the literature and bring to bear the crucial role of religion and its relationship to immigrant integration,  pluralism, race/ethnicity, and transnationalism. Overall, my research will help scholars develop a “different self-understanding of Modernity” in respect to religious pluralism through the lens of the religious and civic experiences of post-1965 immigrants (Habermas, 2006).

[1] Lived Religion – Religious experiences that are precognitive but not necessarily spiritual (McRoberts, 2004, 190).

[2] Habermas describes multiple modernities as the “cultural reconfiguration of the conceptual framework of modernization.” For the purpose of this dissertation, I will operationalize multiple modernities as the multiplex ways that religion shapes how immigrants navigate modern society (Habermas, 2008).

Thanks, and I hope to see you there!

– Paul Chang

Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Paul Chang in advance at