Religion, Migration and the New African Diaspora
A Psychological Perspective
Keywords:identity, migration, new African diaspora, object relations theory, religion/spirituality, transitional processes
The new African diaspora has emerged from the recent migratory movements of Africans. This population is tasked with finding effective methods of adjusting to new environments. Through the psychoanalytic lens of object relations, this article explores the role of religion in shaping migration experiences of the new African diaspora. It considers the psychological processes that intersect with religion to influence migrant adjustment. First, drawing from object relations theory, the role of early relational experiences in shaping self-concept is conveyed. Second, ways are explored in which religious phenomena can support transitional processes within a migration context. Third, the object relations framework is used to review some of the psychological tasks involved in the migration experience (e.g., processing of attachment disruptions, expansion of cultural identity). It is theorized that a migrant’s relationship with the sacred represents a transitional phenomenon that contributes to positive adjustment via a post-migration experience. The article concludes with some practical considerations.
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