‘Lived Religion’ in the Context of Migration: The Case of Zoroastrian Women in the USA
A research project sponsored by Kosciuszko Foundation and supported by the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
Project coordinator: Paulina Niechciał PhD
Project timeline: from September 2019 (fieldwork: Sept–Dec 2019)
This study contributes to understanding how Zoroastrianism—perceived to be the oldest monotheistic religion in the world—faces the challenges of pluralistic American society, home of the expanding Zoroastrian diaspora. As institutional Zoroastrianism is male-dominated, it is particularly interesting how female migrants from relatively conservative communities in Iran and India beyond the institutional frame are transforming the religion through their practices in a transcultural environment and to what extent they are adapting to local values.
Over recent decades, the sociological study of religion has shifted significantly towards the concept of ‘lived religion’, drawing attention to the way religion is embedded in the practices of everyday life. The objective is to explore how a ‘lived religion’ is being created, performed and articulated by Zoroastrian women living in the American diaspora. From a broader perspective the project will contribute to understanding how minority religions are shaped by gender in transcultural contexts. It will also expand the study of “lived religion” beyond the most researched groups in this frame: Christians and Muslims.
Sharing the perspective that a narrative frame is especially useful in exploring the everyday manifestations of a ‘lived religion’, two techniques to collect data are used: life story and photo elicitation interviewing (conducted in English, with a few in Persian, according to the preference of the interviewees).