"Racial Barriers and Religious Boundaries: Religion and Assimilation among Second-Generation Asian Americans"

Religious Diversity Colloquium Winter 2014/15

  • Date: Oct 23, 2014
  • Time: 15:30 - 17:00
  • Speaker: Carolyn Chen (Northwestern University)
  • Carolyn Chen is associate professor of sociology and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of Getting Saved in America: Taiwanese Immigration and Religious Experience (Princeton 2008) and co-editor of the book Sustaining Faith Traditions: Race, Religion, and Ethnicity among the Latino and Asian American Second Generation (NYU 2012). She has written in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times about Asian Americans and college admissions. She is currently writing a book called Zen and the Art of Corporate Productivity about the culture of Asian spirituality in Silicon Valley companies.
  • Location: MPI-MMG, Hermann-Föge-Weg 12, Göttingen
  • Room: Conference Room
"Racial Barriers and Religious Boundaries: Religion and Assimilation among Second-Generation Asian Americans"

For more details please contact vdvoffice(at)mmg.mpg.de.

Using data from the recent Pew Survey of Asian Americans, we examine levels of religious salience and religious retention among the Protestant, Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim and Hindu Asian-American second generation. In the past and present, immigrants and their children to the U.S. undergo what we call the “secularizing effect of assimilation.” Racial and ethnic barriers to assimilation in mainstream society spur religiosity. But as these racial and ethnic barriers weaken, so too does the intensity of religious commitments. Muslims and evangelical Protestants, however, resist the secularizing effect of assimilation. These second-generation faiths have a religious advantage because they’ve created religious boundaries that are oppositional, racialized, and decoupled from ethnicity. We generalize these findings to other upwardly-mobile minority groups in the United States.

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