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Bazaar Pagodas – Transnational Religion, Postsocialist Marketplaces and Vietnamese Migrant Women in Berlin

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Author(s): Gertrud Huwelmeier

Journal: Religion and Gender
ISSN 1878-5417

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 76;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: religion | transnationalism | gender | Vietnamese | Buddhism

ABSTRACT
After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakdown of the East German Socialistgovernment, thousands of former contract workers from Vietnam stayedin the then reunified Germany. Due to their resulting precarious economicsituation, a large number of these migrants became engaged in small businessand petty trade. Some of them, women in particular, have become successfulentrepreneurs and wholesalers in recently built bazaars in the eastern parts ofBerlin. Most interestingly, parts of these urban spaces, former industrial areason the periphery of Germany’s capital, have been transformed into religiousplaces. This article explores the formation of female Vietnamese Buddhistnetworks on the grounds of Asian wholesale markets. It argues that transnationalmobilities in a post-socialist setting encourage border-crossing religious activities,linking people and places to various former socialist countries as well as to theSocialist Republic of Vietnam. Further, by considering political tensions betweenVietnamese in the eastern and western part of Berlin, this contribution illustratesthe negotiation of political sensitivities among diasporic Vietnamese in reunitedGermany. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among female lay Buddhists, itfocuses on entrepreneurship and investigates the relationship between business,migration and religious practices.
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