The religious lives of international seafarers

The religious and spiritual experiences of seafarers, and ministry amongst port chaplains, will be explored in a new project by Cardiff University’s Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC).

Religion in multi-ethnic contexts, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will examine the nature of the lived religious and spiritual experience of seafarers, port chaplains, and welfare workers.

The research will contribute to society’s understanding of how multi-faith groups peacefully co-exist, and what factors may disrupt or threaten harmony in religiously diverse populations.

It will provide insight into the needs, practices, and understandings of religious workers in contemporary ports and industrial workers on ships.

To inform better spiritual provision

The project will use multiple methods including shipboard and port-based ethnography, interviews, and documentary analysis. Archival data will also be collected, charting the historical development of chaplaincy in ports in the UK.

The project’s aims are to inform better spiritual provision by organisations working in ports; gain a better understanding of how religion and spirituality are expressed, experienced and negotiated in ports and multi-national residential workplaces; and explore the evolution of religion outside of congregations and formally designated religious sites.

Taking part in the research are Professor Helen Sampson, Director of SIRC; Professor Graeme Smith, Professor of Public Theology at the University of Chichester; Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray, Professor in Religious and Theological Studies at Cardiff University and Director of the University’s Islam-UK centre; Dr Nelson Turgo, a research associate at SIRC; and Professor Wendy Cadge, Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University.

Professor Helen Sampson, Director of SIRC said: “This project will allow us to consider the challenges associated with working in confined institutionalised multi-faith environments...”

Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray, Director of Cardiff University’s Islam-UK centre added: “The project will allow us to explore the points of view of port-based chaplains who provide spiritual and welfare services to seafarers of different faiths calling at ports across the UK...”

  • Professor Helen Sampson

    Director, SIRC

  • Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray

    Professor in Religious and Theological Studies, Director for the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK (Islam-UK)