British Immigration Policies & British Chinese Christianity

26 February 2019, 16:30 - 26 February 2019, 17:30 Lightfoot Rm, Divinity Faculty, West Rd, Cambridge, CB3 9BS

Speaker: Dr Alexander Chow, Editor of 'Studies in World Christianity', University of Edinburgh

Alex is an editor of the journal Studies in World Christianity (Edinburgh University Press) and the Chinese Christianities book series (Notre Dame Press).

This paper explores the changes in British immigration policies since the end of World War II and their influence on the shape of British Chinese Christianity. This promises to offer a different view from the existing dominant literature on diasporic Chinese Christianity which focuses on the United States. Key to this literature is the Hart-Celler Immigration Act of 1965, which promoted the migration of highly-educated and well-skilled Chinese professionals, and the discourse around the so-called ‘model minority myth’. In contrast, the immigration reforms in the United Kingdom from 1948 to 1981 produced a more diverse population of British Chinese. In particular, many of those who came from Hong Kong tended to take up blue collar jobs in the catering business, whereas ethnic Chinese who came from Malaysia and Singapore tended to move to the United Kingdom as students and professionals. These populations would shape early evangelistic work amongst Chinese in the United Kingdom and the demographics of many British Chinese churches. However, the influx of new Chinese migrants since the 1990s coming from mainland China has posed new and interesting challenges to these churches. This paper will conclude by offering preliminary observations which can be made about these developments.