Transnational religion in Greek American political advocacy.
Contemporary studies of transnationalism are challenging scholarship on the political advocacy of ethnic groups by examining a broader range of connections that shape immigrant identity and engagement with the political systems of host countries. One of these connections is the role religion has in forming new ethnoreligious identities and how this role is influenced by transnational relationships with countries of origin and external religious institutions. In many analyses of “ethnic poltics,” religion is either excluded or viewed as a cultural element closely aligned with ethnic identity. This has obscured the significant influence of religious affiliation and religious institutions in the political advocacy of immigrant groups. This dissertation examines the role of religion in Greek American advocacy and analyzes the transnational elements that have shaped Greek American identity and contributed to the engagement with the United States government on specific foreign policy issues. From a basis in theories of diaspora nationalism and transnationlism and within the larger context of Greek American advocacy, focus is placed on the development of the role of the Greek Orthodox Church in America in defining a unique ethnoreligious identity and in direct engagement with U.S. policymakers on the issues of the invasion and partition of Cyprus, the Macedonian Question, and the legal status and religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey. Following a survey of the role of the Church and its leadership in advocacy on these issues, this dissertation analyzes the elements of transnational religion in the Greek American experience in order to develop a methodology for approaching other groups in the United States. With the increase of immigrant religious affiliation and institutions in America and the diversity of engagement in both domestic and foreign policy issues, the analysis of transnational religious connections is critical to understanding identity formation and ethnoreligious lobbying, as well as gauging the impact of this advocacy on the U.S. political system.