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The Irish Catholic Church and the Politics of Migration

Project Description

This project aims to critically examine the role of the Irish Catholic Church as a key transnational actor in migration politics (emigrant and immigrant) over the past 15 years. This involves investigating the cultural role of the church in reproducing particular social norms and values surrounding migration, its counter-cultural potential via the civil society activities of some religious members, and its transnational functioning in transferring religious and social capital across borders.

The second phase of the project involves mapping the respective roles of the Catholic Church in Ireland, philanthropic foundation funders and pro-migrant NGOs as well as the state in shaping the project of migrant integration in Ireland.

Principal Investigator

Dr Breda Gray


Dr Ria O’Sullivan Lago (2009-2011)


2008-2009: IRCHSS Migration and Citizenship Research Initiative, UCD Seed-Funding
2009-2011: IRCHSS –funded
2011-2013: UL FAHSS Seed

Grant Source

IRCHSS Migration and Citizenship Research Initiative, UCD Seed-Funding ( 2008-9
IRCHSS –funded 2009-2011
UL FAHSS Seed-funding 2011-13

Grant Amount

IRCHSS MCRI Seed-Funding: €4,000
IRCHSS: €100,000
FAHSS: €4,000

Project Outputs

  • Archive of 42 interviews with clergy, religious, NGO Directors, Philanthropic Foundation Funding Officers (interviews with clergy and religious deposited with Institutional Repository Glucksman Library at UL and IQDA (NUIM).
  • Edited special issue Irish Journal of Sociology on the ‘transnational turn in sociology’ 19(2) December 2011.
  • Breda Gray and Ria O’Sullivan Lago ‘Migrant Chaplains: Mediators of Catholic Church transnationalism or guests in a nationally shaped religious field?’ Irish Journal of Sociology 19(2): 93-108.
  • ‘Making migration a public issue, the “network-making power” of the Irish Catholic Church’ in M. Gilmartin and A. White (eds) Migrations: Ireland in a Global World, Manchester University Press (2013).
  • ‘Neoliberal governmentality, religion and the project of migrant integration’ in Tuomas Martikainen and François Gauthier (eds) Religion in the Neoliberal Age. Volume 1: Political Economy and Governance (Ashgate, 2013).
  • UL-Based Public-Seminar Series - Religion and Civil Society
  • Conference papers on the project delivered at:
  • International Society for the Sociology of Religion Conference Religion and Economy in a Global World. Aix-en-Provence, 30 June-3 July 2011.
  • CRONEM 7th Annual Conference Joint International Multidisciplinary Conference with VU Institute for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society (VISOR), Free University Amsterdam - Global Migration and Multiculturalism: Religion, Society, Policy and Politics, University of Surrey 28-29 June 2011.
  • European Science Foundation Research Conference: ‘Religion, Gender, And Human Rights: Challenges for Multicultural And Democratic Societies’ in Linköping, Sweden, 21- 25.6 2011.
  • AHRC, ESRC Innovative Methods in the Study of Religion Conference, London. 29-30 March 2010
  • Dialogicality Between and Within Institutions at 6th International Conference on the Dialogical Self, Athens, Greece
  • 15th Annual Metropolis Conference, De Hague, 4-7 October 2010
  • Knowledge exchange event at Migrant Rights Centre Ireland in Dublin - initial findings presented to migrant chaplains in Ireland (18 February 2011).