New study to focus on seafarers’ religious lives


The religious and spiritual experiences of seafarers, and ministry amongst port chaplains, will be explored in a new project produced by Cardiff University’s Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC) and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). 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. Moreover, it is expected to provide insight into the needs, practices, and understandings of religious workers in contemporary ports and industrial workers on ships. 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. It will offer us the opportunity to consider how people of different faiths can work and live harmoniously together in difficult conditions as well as the circumstances in which relationships may become strained.” 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. 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.”