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Negotiating Religion: Coptic Orthodox diaspora communities. Shifting identities, needs, and relations from Egypt to Europe and back

Project description

Coptic Orthodox diaspora and Coptic identity

Coptic Orthodox Christians represent at least 10% of the Egyptian population. During their history, they suffered persecution and many fled to Europe, resulting in the creation of a considerable Coptic diaspora starting from the 1960s. However, the diaspora as a whole has never been sufficiently studied. The EU-funded NEGOTIA project will analyse the Coptic communities in Europe taking into consideration three main aspects, covering identities, needs and relations. Focusing on the Church of San Giorgio Megalomartire established by Coptic immigrants in Rome in the 1990s and comparing the findings with the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Centre in Cairo and the Church of St. Petrus, der letzte Märtyrer in Hamburg, the project will investigate the history and the cultural heritage of these communities in respect to the deconstruction and reconstruction of their historical-biographical and discursive-relational profile across the migration process.


NEGOTIA aims to analyse the Coptic Orthodox diaspora communities in Europe with specific regard to three key aspects: identities, needs, and relations, in order to reconstruct the theoretical-practical framework of religious mediation. Its first goal is to examine the origins and the history of these communities, their cultural heritage and the peculiarities of their religion, but above all the dynamics of deconstruction and reconstitution of the material, emotional and relational dimensions experienced by such communities in the pathways from their homeland to abroad and back. Its final goal is to define the research field of religious mediation through an integrated, methodological approach to Copts, who are a peculiar case study to conceptualise this topic, which has never been systematically studied before. At the core of NEGOTIA stands the Church of S. Giorgio Megalomartire, established in Rome as an independent Diocese in 1996. This community includes, among others: members with a migratory background; youth groups at least partially born in the diaspora; community religious and lay agents. It was a result of the 1960s migratory processes from Egypt and its profile is strongly characterised by continuous exchanges with their homeland. Thus, this Diocese will be analysed in close connection to the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center, established in Cairo in 2008 “to preserve the rich Coptic heritage as an important epoch in Egyptian history and Christian tradition worldwide”, that exemplifies one of the most interesting, contemporary Coptic community centres of Egypt. Through a transnational comparative perspective, the data arising from the analysis of the Roman Diocese will be merged with the data collected studying the Coptic Church of St. Petrus, der letzte Märtyrer in Hamburg, the last research focus. This Church, founded in the 1970s, is one of the member churches of the North German Communities.


Net EU contribution
€ 202 749,12
Piazzale aldo moro 5
00185 Roma

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Centro (IT) Lazio Roma
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Partners (1)