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Centre for Socio-Legal Studies

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Dr Lena Rose is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford. Her research areas are migration and refugee studies, legal anthropology, religion, and globalisation.

Her current three-year interdisciplinary research project entitled 'Christianity on Trial: Asylum, Conversion, and the Modern Nation-State' (2019-2022) examines the negotiation of ‘Christianity’ through the lens of asylum adjudications of claimants based on the fear of religious persecution following a conversion to Christianity. In these cases, secular judges have to assess the genuineness of the conversion, and risks of practising Christianity in the country of origin of the applicants. This study of case law and ethnographic fieldwork at courts in Germany, France, and the UK explores the tensions between culture, religion, and power in the negotiation of what 'Christianity' is.

Lena completed her DPhil in Social and Cultural Anthropology in May 2019, based at the Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford. Her doctoral work was concerned with the role of power in the circulation of ideas, resources, people, and theology within global evangelicalism. She conducted ethnographic fieldwork among Palestinian and 'Western' evangelical Christians in Israel-Palestine, Europe and North America, while paying attention to the theologies that shape evangelicals' approaches to Israel. Her doctoral work has already resulted in a number of publications in journals such as Current Anthropology, Global Networks, and Ethnos.

Lena holds an MSc Migration Studies (University of Oxford, 2013) and has worked as research assistant on various projects at the International Migration Institute, the Refugee Studies Centre, and the Socio-Legal Studies Centre.

From 2017 to 2020, Lena was the co-founder and convener of the interdisciplinary Oxford Migration and Mobility Network (@MigMobNetwork), which draws together researchers of migration and mobility from across the University. The network has grown to combine the expertise of more than a hundred researchers from more than twenty different departments from across the University of Oxford.


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  • L Rose, 'Nazareth Village and the creation of the ‘Holy Land’ in Israel-Palestine' (2020) 61 Current Anthropology
    DOI: https://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2095/10.1086/708762
    This article adds to the anthropological understanding of Christianity as a ‘discursive tradition’ (Anidjar, 2009; Asad, 2009; Garriott and O’Neill, 2008) by looking at how a particular theological position and practice, or ‘orthodoxy’, within evangelicalism is maintained and lived out. Its goal is to highlight evangelical ‘orthodoxy’ as a relationship of power (Asad 1993), and explore the ways in which evangelical beliefs and practice are conditioned by, and result in, social and political consequences (Bielo 2009, Wimbush 2016). To do this, it explores the example of the living history museum Nazareth Village in Israel-Palestine, developed jointly by American and Palestinian Israeli evangelicals, that reconstructs Jewish first-century life in the centre of a Palestinian Israeli town. I argue that Nazareth Village recreates a particular imagination of the biblical first century that animates evangelical imaginations of, and investments in, what Israel ought to be like today. The powerful theologies that propel it stand in contrast to local Palestinian evangelical ideas of the ‘Holy Land’.
  • L Rose, 'Religious Theme Parks' in Daniel Olsen ed, Dallen Timothy ed (ed), Routledge Handbook of Religious and Spiritual Tourism (Routledge 2020) (forthcoming)
  • L Rose, 'Geometries of 'Global' Evangelicalism' (2019) 19 Global Networks 86
    DOI: doi.org/10.1111/glob.12211
    In this article, I explore the power dynamics at play in religious place‐making. I critically discuss the uneven co‐configurations of imaginaries of the ‘local’ and ‘global’ within global evangelicalism. Specifically, I analyse the recent recording of a live album by the famous charismatic Australian band Hillsong United (of Hillsong Church) at various locations in Israel‐Palestine, which was followed by a concert tour in Israel. Palestinian evangelical Christians were critical of this endeavour, for they felt that it marginalized and excluded them from their global evangelical faith family. The frictions between the Palestinian evangelical community and Hillsong United illustrate how dominant evangelical actors create an imagination of the ‘local’, which enters the imaginary of global evangelicalism (and bears material consequences). In the article, I thus argue that privileged financial and cultural resources and travel regimes lead to specific notions of geometries of power in global evangelicalism.
  • L Rose, 'Palestinian Evangelicals – A Theologically Engaged Anthropological Approach' (2019) Ethnos
    DOI: doi.org/10.1080/00141844.2019.1641534
    Christian theologians have grappled for centuries with the fact that they are not Jews, yet embedded in Jewish history. Situated in the context of a Jewish-centric State that has been welcomed by a majority of evangelicals worldwide as fulfilment of biblical prophecy (and supported by their financial, spiritual, and political investment), Palestinian evangelicals are an anomaly. While they share an evangelical commitment, they have a complex and difficult relationship with the Israeli state. This paper argues that the population of Palestinian evangelicals is most productively explored through a combined interdisciplinary approach of Theology and Anthropology: it reveals the historical theologies that have shaped Palestinian evangelical engagement with the Israeli state and their global faith family. The article argues that theologically engaged Anthropology can aid in uncovering the power relationships within a transnational religious movement.
  • C R Parsons, S Rojon, L Rose and F Samanani, 'High skilled migration through the lens of policy ' (2018) Migration Studies
    DOI: doi.org/10.1093/migration/mny037
    High skilled migrants and the policies designed to attract and select such individuals are widely championed. In formulating and evaluating such policies, however, policy makers and academics alike face significant challenges, since, from the perspective of policy, what it means to be high skilled remains a fluid concept. The resulting ambiguity stymies meaningful international comparisons of the mobility of skills, undermines the design and evaluation of immigration policies and hinders the measurement of human capital. In this paper, we adopt an inductive approach to examine how high skilled migrants are classified based upon states’ unilateral immigration policies, thereby highlighting the difficulties of comparing high skilled policies across countries. We further elucidate the challenges in measuring the outcomes of high skilled migration policies that arise due to differing national priorities in recording high skilled migrants. We conclude by making a number of policy recommendations, which if enacted, would bring clarity to scholars and policy makers alike in terms of being able to meaningfully compare the composition, and assess the efficacy of, high skilled migration policies across countries. In doing so we introduce three datasets comprising: harmonised high skill migration flow data, skilled occupational concordances and high skilled unilateral and bilateral migration policy data, which undergird our analysis and that can be built upon in years to come.
  • L Rose and D Thebault, 'What Kind of Christianity? A v Switzerland ' (2018) 7 Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 543 [Case Note]
    DOI: doi.org/10.1093/ojlr/rwy044
    This comment explores how legal authorities understand religious identity and sets these understandings in a wider context. The comment questions whether the interpretation of the claimant’s conversion to Christianity by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Swiss Asylum authorities might not be too restricted to a particular Western European form of Christianity. The European Convention on Human Rights gives to the contracting States a certain margin of appreciation in assessing the risk of ill treatment undergone by a convert. In this case in its application of the Convention the ECtHR accepted the ruling of the Swiss authorities.
  • Will Allen, Bridget Anderson, Nicholas van Hear and L Rose and others, 'Who Counts in Crises? The New Geopolitics of International Migration and Refugee Governance' (2017) 23 Geopolitics 217
    DOI: doi.org/10.1080/14650045.2017.1327740
    Recent migration ‘crises’ raise important geopolitical questions. Who is ‘the migrant’ that contemporary politics are fixated on? How are answers to ‘who counts as a migrant’ changing? Who gets to do that counting, and under what circumstances? This forum responds to, as well as questions, the current saliency of migration by examining how categories of migration hold geopolitical significance—not only in how they are constructed and by whom, but also in how they are challenged and subverted. Furthermore, by examining how the very concepts of ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’ are used in different contexts, and for a variety of purposes, it opens up critical questions about mobility, citizenship and the nation state. Collectively, these contributions aim to demonstrate how problematising migration and its categorisation can be a tool of enquiry into other phenomena and processes.

Research projects