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Book launch Religion, Migration and Business: Faith, Work and Entrepreneurialism in the UK

Venue: Online

This event brings together two renowned scholars in migrant entrepreneurship and anthropology to engage with Dr Olivia Sheringham (Birkbeck, University of London) and Dr María Villares-Varela (University of Southampton) about their recent book Religion, Migration and Business: Faith, Work and Entrepreneurialism in the UK published in 2020 by Palgrave.

This event is co-hosted by Birkbeck’s Department of Geography and the Urban Intersections Experimental Collective. It will be chaired by Professor Melissa Butcher.

About the book: Religion, Migration and Business critically interrogates the role of religious faith in the experiences and practices of migrant entrepreneurs against the backdrop of neoliberal Britain. Focussing on Pentecostalism, a popular Christian denomination among migrant groups in the UK, the authors draw on primary qualitative data to examine the ways in which Pentecostal beliefs and values influence the aspirations and practices of migrant entrepreneurs. The book also explores the role of Pentecostal churches in supporting entrepreneurial activities among migrant communities, arguing that these institutions simultaneously comply and contest the formation of neoliberal subjectivities: providing cultural legitimacy to the entrepreneurial subject, whilst also contesting the community erosion of neoliberalism (particularly in an austerity context) and fostering a strong a sense of belonging among congregants. The book offers an interdisciplinary perspective spanning sociology, geography and entrepreneurship studies to explain how values and faith networks shape everyday life, work and entrepreneurial practices.


Contact name:

  • Dr Maria Villares-Varela -

    Dr María Villares-Varela (PhD/FHEA) is an associate professor in Sociology at the University of Southampton. Her research explores international migration processes and work and employment relations in migrant firms, with a particular focus on gendered and classed-based experiences of work. She has published extensively in these areas of research in journals such as Sociology, Work Employment & Society and Entrepreneurship and Regional Development

  • Dr Olivia Sheringham -

    Dr Olivia Sheringham (PhD/FHEA) is a lecturer in Social and Cultural Geography at Birkbeck University of London. Her research interests span home, migration and belonging in urban contexts; cultural diversity and geographies of encounter; religion and migration; and creative and collaborative practice. She has published widely on these themes, including in the journals Cultural Geographies, Progress in Human Geography, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and through three single and co-authored monographs. 

  • Prof Melissa Butcher -

    Melissa Butcher is a professor of social and cultural geography at Birkbeck, University of London. She uses ethnographic, visual and participatory methodologies to examine questions of identity and belonging within contexts of cultural change and contested urban space. She has been Principle and Co-Investigator on several UKRI, European and ARC funded projects in London, Delhi, Singapore and Sydney, including 'Learning from Small Cities: Governing Imagined Futures and the Dynamics of Change in India's Smart Urban Age' (2018-2020, ESRC-ICSSR), 'SINGLE: Entanglements of Urban Space, Cultural Encounters and Gendered Identities in Delhi and Shanghai' (, 2013-16,HERA), and 'Creating Hackney as Home' (, 2013-2015, ESRC).

  • Professor Cristina Rocha -

    Professor Cristina Rocha is an anthropologist and director of the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University. Her research focuses on the intersections of globalisation, migration and religion. She will be a Senior Fellow at the Paris Institute for Advanced Study in 2021-2022, and has been a Visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity, King’s and Queen’s College, Utrecht University, and CUNY Graduate Centre. She was awarded the prestigious ARC Future Fellowship (2014-2018) to research transnational Pentecostal connections between Australia and Brazil and the Brazilian community in Australia, and an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2006-2009). She is currently Chief Investigator in an ARC Discovery project (with Richard Vokes, UWA) titled “The African Diaspora and Pentecostalism in Australia: New Perspectives on Materiality, Media and Religion.”

  • Professor Monder Ram -

    Professor Monder Ram OBE is the Director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME), Aston University, Birmingham. He is a leading authority on small business and ethnic minority entrepreneurship research and has published widely on the subject, and has extensive experience of working in and acting as a consultant to small and ethnic minority businesses. Monder is a regular keynote speaker at international conferences, and advises the government on the importance and value of ethnic minority businesses through his position on the APPG for BAME Business Owners. He also holds visiting positions at Warwick University and the University of Turku.