Sustaining Faith Traditions

Race, Ethnicity, and Religion among the Latino and Asian American Second Generation

280 pages

20 figures/tables

July, 2012

ISBN: 9780814717356



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Carolyn Chen is Associate Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL). She is the author of Getting Saved in America: Taiwanese Immigration and Religious Experience.

All books by Carolyn Chen

Russell Jeung is Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. He is the author of Faithful Generations: Race and New Asian American Churches, as well as co-producer of the video documentary The Oak Park Story.

All books by Russell Jeung

Over fifty years ago, Will Herberg theorized that future immigrants to the United States would no longer identify themselves through their races or ethnicities, or through the languages and cultures of their home countries. Rather, modern immigrants would base their identities on their religions.

The landscape of U.S. immigration has changed dramatically since Herberg first published his theory. Most of today’s immigrants are Asian or Latino, and are thus unable to shed their racial and ethnic identities as rapidly as the Europeans about whom Herberg wrote. And rather than a flexible, labor-based economy hungry for more workers, today’s immigrants find themselves in a post-industrial segmented economy that allows little in the way of class mobility.

In this comprehensive anthology contributors draw on ethnography and in-depth interviews to examine the experiences of the new second generation: the children of Asian and Latino immigrants. Covering a diversity of second-generation religious communities including Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews, the contributors highlight the ways in which race, ethnicity, and religion intersect for new Americans. As the new second generation of Latinos and Asian Americans comes of age, they will not only shape American race relations, but also the face of American religion.


  • "Sustaining Faith Traditions includes an impressive array of new studies examining how race, ethnicity, and religion permeate the lives of second-generation Asian and Latino immigrants.  Taken as whole, the collection shows how diverse faith traditions transform 21st-century America, offering a nuanced understanding of ethnoreligious hybridity and racialism."

    —Min Zhou, Professor of Sociology & Asian American Studies, UCLA, and author of Contemporary Chinese America

  • "A generation of scholars has arisen that makes clear the complex, shifting, but organic links between religion and racial and ethnic identities. Sustaining Faith Traditions demonstrates that the sociology of religion is alive, well, and relevant in today's America. Casting off the simplistic assimilation theories of earlier scholars, they chart a sophisticated course among race, religion, class, and context to explain the experiences, affiliations, and identities of second-generation Americans. In vivid ethnographic and interview studies, the contributing authors take you inside houses of worship, families, and communities. They illuminate how second-generation Korean, Arab, Mexican, Chinese, Filipino, and Jewish Americans live their religions and experience their identities. Students of religion, immigration, multiculturalism, and ethnic identity will want to read this book."

    —Paul Spickard , University of California, Santa Barbara

  • "a well cited book for immigrant religion scholarship"

    —Philip Conner, Sociology of Religion

  • "[T]he volume presents in rich empirical detail the way religion remains important in many different ways for Latino and Asian second-generation migrants in the USA.  Sustaining Faith Traditions allows us a glimpse into the ways in which the needs of migrant groups change over time and the role religion can play in their life, thus reaffirming its importance."

    —Carolina Ivanescu, Social Anthropology

  • "This book is particularly suited for scholars of immigrant religion, as well as those of racial and ethnic identity, as it increases the understanding of the complexity of race, ethnicity, and religion for second generation immigrant communities. It is a well-written and organized volume...provides empirical research from leaders in the subfield of immigrant religion."

    —Jennifer L. Le, Religious Research Association Review