What's in a handshake? Multi-faith practice as a starting point for Christian Migration Ethics

Ulrich Schmiedel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article assesses the tension between cosmopolitan and communitarian approaches to the ethics of migration by analysing how the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) has responded to the current so-called migration crisis in Europe. I argue that the statements of the EKD frame people on the move either as migrants or as Muslims. These frames come with competing ethical consequences. Whereas migrants are presented as passive victims in need of some form of support by Christians, Muslims are presented as active victimisers in need of some form of suppression by Christians. However, when the then chairman of the EKD shook hands with people on the move who were arriving at Munich station in the summer of 2015, the surplus of meaning communicated in this encounter demonstrated that these people cannot be reduced to their respective framing, thus resisting the construction of both the cosmopolitan migrant frame and the communitarian Muslim frame. Accordingly, I advocate for a re-conceptualisation of the theological ethics of migration which takes multi-faith practices, such as these handshakes, as a point of departure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-583
JournalStudies in Christian Ethics
Early online date4 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • communitarianism
  • touch
  • refugee crisis
  • migration
  • Islamophobia
  • Islam
  • cosmopolitanism


Dive into the research topics of 'What's in a handshake? Multi-faith practice as a starting point for Christian Migration Ethics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this