Decisions on asylum applications based on conversion to Christianity are notoriously difficult to reach, and contain a number of challenges for the decision-makers, applicants, lawyers, and supporting pastors/congregations involved. This research aims discover the specific challenges involved in asylum processes of religious converts that are based on the fear of religious persecution. It will result in academic publications and recommendations. The research runs from 2019 to 2022, and takes place in Germany and the UK.
The project is run by Dr Lena Rose, who is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the Law Faculty of the University of Oxford, UK. Lena is an anthropologist by training and has extensive experience in ethnographic research of Christianity. Her work has already been published in top peer-reviewed journals such as Current Anthropology, Oxford Journal for Law and Religion, Ethnos, and Global Networks (see list of publications here).
This research consists of ethnographic and legal methods. The ethnographic elements include observation of court proceedings, interviews with judges, asylum-seekers, lawyers, immigration officials, pastors, and translators, as well as ‘participant observation‘ (participation in activities with simultaneous scientific reflection, usually captured in fieldnotes) in some of the churches of those who have converted to Christianity. Each of these research activities is guided by the question: “How is Christianity understood by the respective actors in the respective event?” By investigating this question from the perspective of all actors in the proceedings, the project hopes to find constructive and fair ways to arrive at decisions in asylum claims based on fear of religious persecution following a conversion to Christianity.
Legal analysis is based on the thematic analyses of appeal decisions of asylum claims based on religious conversion in Germany, France, and the UK, as well as anonymised protocols of first asylum hearings of religious converts.
If you are an asylum seeker, judge, lawyer, translator or pastor who has been involved with asylum processes based on conversion to Christianity and would like to take part in this study, feel free to get in touch. Read on if you want to know more about consent, data protection, and withdrawal from the study.
In case of observations of court hearings, the claimant(s) can decide before the start of the hearing whether they allow my presence as a researcher at the hearing or not. I will provide flyers in German, English, Farsi, and Arabic about the project for this purpose. They can tell either myself, the judge, or their lawyer before the hearing if they prefer not to take part, or can also notify me after the hearing if they prefer me not to use the anonymised notes of the observations.
If you agree to take part, you may withdraw yourself from the study at any time, without giving a reason, and without negative consequences, by advising me of this decision, in which case I will delete the interview file and transcript, notes, or relevant observations.
All interview notes and transcripts, as well as all notes of court observations, will be anonymised, and all personal details such as names and locations changed.