Religious Faith, Space and Diasporic Communities in East London: 1880 – Present

1 January 2011 – 31 December 2015
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This research project, which is being conducted in collaboration with Oxford University’s History Faculty as part of the Oxford Diasporas Programme, aims to analyse the contested histories of faith-based civil-society institutions in the East End of London from the late nineteenth century to the present. It will examine the ways in which different faith communities – specifically Christian, Muslim and Jewish – have shared spaces and resources in East London and have worked together to overcome social problems throughout the twentieth century and beyond.

Standard narratives of the history of the East End present a series of community displacements or distinct “waves” of migration. In these narratives, the ethnic and religious makeup of the diasporas of East London have shifted with each migration. This research looks to question the narratives of moving up/moving out by focusing on connections between different faith communities in East London, showing that there have always been interactions between different diasporic communities and between diasporic communities and the “receiving culture.” It pays specific attention to certain themes: the organisation of space (sharing, claiming, contesting); gender and faith practices (particularly how religious observance and use of space might differ for men and women) and how different generations of diasporic communities have negotiated issues of faith and space in East London. Exploring these issues illuminates both the diasporic communities in East London and shifts in wider society.

Principal Investigator

Ben Gidley


Michael Keith
Nazneen Ahmed (Oxford Faculty of History)
Eve Colpus (Oxford Faculty of History)
Jane Garnett (Oxford Faculty of History)
Alana Harris (Oxford Faculty of History)


The Leverhulme Trust