No Substitute for Fieldwork: Research Perspectives in the Study of Persecuted Christian Communities
Distinguished Fellow, Danube Institute
Visiting Professor, University of Óbuda
Budapest Report, (forthcoming October 2021).
One of the most pressing, but least documented, humanitarian crises in the world is the persecution of Christian communities. It is a global phenomenon, and the cast of characters is ever expanding and ever changing. Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East the Indian
subcontinent, and East Asia with an epicenter in China come most readily to mind, but these are but the best known cases. This article, however, may be thought of as a kind of precursor to the wider topic of the persecution of Christians in that it focuses on a particular methodological approach to the study of persecuted and endangered Christian communities. Field work, particularly in its participant/observer format, is our focus today. To illustrate the importance of fieldwork on the studies which will be made of the global persecution of Christians, I offer a case study from my own experience; the small, deeply Christian pro-life rescue movement, and the second is the Euro-American extreme right. The rescue movement offers an ideal microcosm of what can be gained, and what are the risks, of intensive participant/observer fieldwork.