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Dr. Aprilfaye Manalang – Georg Bollenbeck Fellow 2017, 2018 & 2019


Current professional background:

I have an MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a PhD in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University. Being trained in both the Social Sciences and Humanities, I am currently an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Norfolk State University in Virginia. I was ranked as a top 10 finalist for the National Hiett Prize in Humanities, an “annual award aimed at identifying candidates who are in the early stages of careers devoted to the humanities and whose work shows extraordinary promise and has a significant public component related to contemporary culture.” In May 2019, I received the Teaching Faculty Excellence award, which “recognizes a member of the Teaching Faculty that has advanced the university’s mission through outstanding teaching, research, and community service.”  

Field of research:

My research interests include immigration, transnationalism, the sociology of religion, questions of citizenship, as well as race and ethnicity. My ongoing project “Minority Millennials and the Rise of ‘Religious Nones’: A Comparative Analysis” is funded through the John Templeton Foundation Early Career Award (https://research.kent.ac.uk/understandingunbelief/person/dr-aprilfaye-manalang/) and has benefited from three Georg Bollenbeck Fellowships (2017-2019) at the University of Siegen as well as Virginia Humanities Fellowships (2019; 2016).

Purpose of your last research visit:

This research project investigates the role of religion and how it influences immigrant millennials’ families’ integration in Berufskolleg Ehrenfeld, Cologne’s most diverse school, where over 90% of students are immigrants. BKE is a highly diverse vocational school with students from various backgrounds, i.e. first-, second- or third-generation immigrants from a range of nations. Because of its immigrant diversity, BKE is an excellent location in which to conduct this research study. In summer 2017, we conducted over 300 surveys, 40 in-depth interviews, and 6 focus group interviews. We will advance analysis on the role of religion on how these respective millennial immigrants negotiate family, community, and difference vis-à-vis their host-nation.

We will also explore the role of religion in shaping educational, civic, and political outcomes in Germany. Overall this research intends to answer: How do these respective millennial immigrants negotiate family, community, and difference vis-à-vis their host-nation?
This research is significant because there is a persistent, educational inequality among immigrants and their attainment of high school/college degrees in Germany. Moreover, since Germany has taken in a record number of Syrian as well as other refugees, Germany is now among the major immigrant nations in the world. Since religious pluralism and immigration are now (much more than before) part of the social reality of Germany and for many other parts of the world, this study will help us clarify the role of religion in their process of integration and how that integration impacts their family dynamic, as they navigate one of the most secular countries in the world. This study will also shed light on what factors help immigrant millennials to integrate, and how religion impacts the ways they navigate family, community, and difference. Investigating the relationship among religion, education, and integration will help scholars develop better transnational family and kinship models.

This study gained citywide attention when Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger twice featured an article on our research: https://www.ksta.de/koeln/ehrenfeld/berufskolleg-in-koeln-ehrenfeld-us-uni-forscht-zur-integration-von-fluechtlingen-31188438  & https://www.ksta.de/koeln/ehrenfeld/internationales-projekt-studie-zu-religion-und-integration-am-berufskolleg-ehrenfeld-27925762


Relation to the University of Siegen and to the local host:

This research study is a transnational collaboration with Prof. Dr. Daniel Stein (North American Literary and Cultural Studies, University of Siegen) and Prof. Dr. Page Laws, Dean of the Honors College and emerita professor of English (Norfolk State University), and Britta Moelders (Berufskolleg Ehrenfeld in Cologne).

Future projects / Activities:

I’m looking forward to joining the Religious Diversity and Secular University Summer School at the University of Cambridge Spring 2021. Currently, I am also crafting research on minority millennials and the rise of secularism and its impact on citizenship in the 21st century.

Impressions of Siegen:

I’m grateful for the strong support and collaboration with Prof. Stein. We’ve had a number of fruitful discussions regarding the ongoing research and workshopping this project has been especially insightful. Colleagues at Siegen have been universally receptive and highly collegial. I deeply appreciate this special opportunity to develop as a scholar.

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