Domestication of Difference: Practices of Civic Engagement among Middle Eastern Christians in Denmark

  • Sara Lei Sparre Aarhus University
  • Lise Paulsen Galal Roskilde University
Keywords Ghassan Hage, domestication, Denmark, Coptic Christians, Assyrian Christians, Chaldean Christians
Keywords Ghassan Hage, domestication, Denmark, Coptic Christians, Assyrian Christians, Chaldean Christians


This article employs Hage’s concept of “domestication” as a lens for understanding how various forms of civic engagement among Coptic, Assyrian, and Chaldean Christian migrant communities in Denmark reproduce and contest a Danish model of citizenship, a particular construction of both the national subject and its Others. While churches are a primary place for civic engagement among Middle Eastern Christians as an ethnoreligious group, internally in the communities three modalities of civic engagement—serving, committing, and consuming—are practiced. Each produces different manifestations of citizenship because they engage with the local, national, and transnational differently. Christians of Middle Eastern origin are not publicly visible as political or activist groups as they, along with other immigrant groups, are expected to immerse themselves into the Danish model where ethnic and cultural differences are acknowledged but disregarded of their original context and its power relations.

Author Biographies

Sara Lei Sparre, Aarhus University

Dr. Sara Lei Sparre is Associate Professor at Department of Anthropology at Aarhus University. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from University of Copenhagen (2013) and is currently Research-PI of the collaborative research and innovation project From Migrant to SOSU Aspirant funded by Innovation Fund Denmark. Her research in Denmark and the Middle East include migrant experiences, interfaith relations, citizenship and the (welfare) state; ageing immigrants, elderly care and migrant care workers; and religion, generations and youth activism. Email:

Lise Paulsen Galal, Roskilde University

Dr. Lise Paulsen Galal is Associate Professor at Department of Communication and Arts at Roskilde University. Trained as an anthropologist, her research covers Middle Eastern Christians, minority-majority relations, religious diversity, and transnational belonging among migrants. As PI of the research project The Organised Cultural Encounters (funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark), she has examined organised interreligious dialogue activities in a Danish context. Galal has published widely on cultural and religious diversity including the book Organised Cultural Encounters. Practices of Transformation (co-authored with Hvenegård-Lassen and published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).


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