Gulf Migration, Social Remittances and Religion: Interplay of ‘faith and prosperity’ among Kerala Christians

Author Name

Dr.Ginu Zacharia Oommen

Author Address

Honorary Associate Fellow at MIGRINTER, University de Poitiers, France


Gulf Migration, Social Remittances and Religion: Interplay of ‘faith and prosperity’ among Kerala Christians


The discovery of oil in Gulf countries and the subsequent oil boom in 1970’s initiated a huge wave of immigration from Kerala. The transnational nature of the Gulf migrants has also significantly influenced the class structure, social hierarchy, worship patterns, family structure and above all, religion and religiosity in Kerala. Ginu Zacharia Oommen attempts to  explore how migratory movements and remittances affected the religion and religious practices in Kerala, thus, leading to a transformation of the society.  Ginu argues that the  flow of remittances on the one hand, contributed to larger investments in churches/mosques/temples and religious establishments across Kerala, largely funded by migrants and Gulf based associations; and on the other, to the prevalence of new and ostentatious religious practices, doctrines and rituals. Ginu pointed that reorientation of the lives of  Christian immigrants living in the host country (Gulf countries) and the newly created wealth brings dramatic change in the lives and practices of Christians back home(in Kerala). The paper   focuses on the ‘remittances inspired’ social transformation of Kerala Christians and  argues that the change in religiosity and religious practices were in turn influenced by migrant experiences based on their religious beliefs in their host countries.  The study asserts that migration–centered religious reorientation of Kerala Christians is abetting commodification of religion, assertion of communal identity, proliferation of radical religious groups, and the emergence of new forms of worship in the Kerala society.


International Conference on "Global Migration: Rethinking Skills, Knowledge and Culture"
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