Ethnic Churches and Racial Attitudes: A Comparative Study of Chinese- and Vietnamese-American Congregations in Houston, TX
Graduate Student, Sociology
This research project interrogates the extent to which religion shapes the racial attitudes of Asian American Christians. Christianity influences the ways Asian Americans adapt to the U.S. and their involvement in ethnic churches shapes their perceptions of race and racism. This project interrogates how Chinese- and Vietnamese-American Christians, two of the largest Asian American groups, employ cultural-religious explanations in their conceptualizations of racial discrimination, racial boundaries, and anti-Blackness in this comparative congregational study. Overall, this study aims to contribute to the scholarly conversation on race, religion, immigration, and politics, with public implications on immigration, Asian American civic engagement, and broader movements for racial justice.
Identity, Community, Belonging: Imagining the Creation of a Postcolonial/Asian American Kachin Christian Community
Htoi San Lu
Graduate Student, Religion
This dissertation examines theological, ecclesiological approaches to Christian community, identity, and belonging from an Asian/American and postcolonial feminist perspective: specifically examining how the Kachin Baptist community in the U.S. constructs their ethno-nationalist religious identity in changing geopolitical contexts. The Kachin are an indigenous, minoritized ethnic group who began to migrate from Burma/Myanmar to the United States in the 1950s. Divisions within the U.S.-based community emerged between 2011 and 2014, a period marked by intensified militarized conflict in Burma which resulted in thousands of civilians killed and more than 100,000 Kachin displaced. Kachin immigrants and resettled refugees in the U.S. have debated intensely about the contours of their community: differing about alliances and loyalty (to Kachin churches in Myanmar). I argue these divisions are best understood by examining the influential role of American Baptist missionaries and the Burmese sociopolitical context beginning in the 19th century to the present.