What kinds of rhetoric characterize German and Israeli public (health) discourses regarding religious minorities and migrants? How do these state-minority tensions result in targeted public (health) practices, policies and legislation? And, how do they shape the experiences and practices of individuals and collectives themselves?
This interdisciplinary research network was established in 2020 to address these pressing issues. Funded by the DAAD Centre for German Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, we cross disciplinary boundaries between social sciences, humanities and law as well as international domains to examine the nexus of medicine, religion and migration today. Our collaborators are based at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Technion: Israel Institute of Technology, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Freie Universität Berlin, University of Bayreuth, and the Max Planck Institute.
Migration is represented as a major political challenge in both Germany and Israel, with ethnic and religious minorities often framed as a threat to national character amidst demographic anxieties. While there is considerable research on health and migration in Germany and Israel, our contribution will be to explore these issues through the understudied lens of religion. Migrants and minorities – and their religious subjectivities – have been presented by media and politicians as a risk to the body politic, especially for medical issues such as higher fertility rates, circumcision, therapeutic (non-)compliance, and lower levels of vaccination coverage leading to epidemic outbreaks – which is reflected in targeted public health discourse and interventions.
Our international network enables us to explore the continuities and discontinuities, consensuses and controversies, through which religion influences migrant and minority health in Germany and Israel. Our comparative approach will advance both academic and public discussions around religious migrants and minorities amidst politically-challenging times.