the difficult task of naming

nametag_smlNames are important. Naming the animals was one of the first jobs given to man. Naming a child is one of the first tasks of the new parent. In one of my favourite books, The Wizard of Earthsea, (and probably a few other fantasy novels besides) the true name of a person or thing is a source of great power.

So, the task here is not insignificant: I need help coming up with a name for my draft PhD project proposal. Here’s how the synopsis reads at the moment:

I will investigate the interplay between Christian identity and national identity in constructing a sense of place among migrants in a new host country. Specifically, I will conduct research among migrant Christians from Commonwealth countries living in Britain and examine their local, international and transnational  connections with people and places that have, for them, spiritual significance. I intend to conduct research with migrant churches focusing on how the way they think about nation, place and theology impact their faith communities and their interactions with other faith communities in a new host country.
The objective of this research is to better understand how to encourage uses of place that build on the strengths and commonalities we share in diverse communities to create a more inclusive society, and how to acknowledge and celebrate difference while remaining in community. That is, to understand how to live grounded lives that seek not to ignore difference (either by pretending it does not exist, or demanding that it be erased) but to acknowledge it and strive creatively towards shared community.

 I look forward to your suggestions in the comments section…


  1. I agree that names are important. Particularly in a study of identity I can see an irony if you choose a dud name. Bearing the irony in mind and with no idea at what’s a respectable title these days, here it goes…

    Tracing the locus of identity of migrant faith communities through transnational and spiritual space to move towards an understanding, including and celebrating shared society.

    How many prepositional phrases and adjectives do I need to throw in to make it sound right? Hearing the titles of the PhD’s has always been my favourite part of graduation ceremonies. 😀

    1. For a while I thought “The alien among you” sounded kind of cool as a catchy title – but I’ve since realised that I’m not so much interested in a Christian response to immigration, but rather a Christian response to being an immigrant

      So, maybe something like “people from every nation” (Acts 10)? Or, “Scattered among the nations”?

  2. How about “Faith in place: Ideas and experience of community for migrant Christians in the UK” ?

    The second half is an attempt at being descriptive, and the first at being pithy … without (I hope) trying too hard.

    1. I like it, Bruce. While I can say a wholehearted ‘yes!’ to the idea of ‘Faith in Place’, I could probably also talk about ‘Faith on the Move’. Trying to get the balance right between ‘rootedness’ and movement might prove tricky…

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