NEGOTIA aims to analyse the Coptic Orthodox diaspora communities in Europe with specific regard to three key aspects: identities, needs, and relations, in order to reconstruct the theoretical-practical framework of religious mediation.
Its first goal is to examine the origins and the history of these communities, their cultural heritage and the peculiarities of their religion, but above all the dynamics of deconstruction and reconstitution of the material, emotional and relational dimensions experienced by such communities in the pathways from their homeland to abroad and back. Its final goal is to define the research field of religious mediation through an integrated, methodological approach to Copts, who are a peculiar case study to conceptualise this topic, which has never been systematically studied before.
At the core of NEGOTIA is the Church of S. Giorgio Megalomartire, established in Rome as an independent Diocese in 1996. This community includes, among others: members with a migratory background; youth groups at least partially born in the diaspora; community religious and lay agents. It was a result of the 1960s migratory processes from Egypt and its profile is strongly characterised by continuous exchanges with its homeland. Therefore, this Diocese will be analysed in close connection to Copts in Egypt. Particular attention is paid to the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center, established in Cairo in 2008 “to preserve the rich Coptic heritage as an important epoch in Egyptian history and Christian tradition worldwide”, that exemplifies one of the most interesting, contemporary Coptic community centres of Egypt as a hub of sharing culture and values where Copts in Egypt interact.
Through a transnational comparative perspective, the data arising from the analysis of the Roman Diocese and Copts in Egypt will be merged with the data collected studying the Coptic Church of St. Petrus, der letzte Märtyrer in Hamburg, the last research focus. This Church, founded in the 1970s, is one of the member churches of the North German Communities.
The framework of the NEGOTIA project is outlined in the book A. Bernardo, Ricostruire una comunità. La Chiesa copta ortodossa in Europa, Quasar 2020 (in Italian), which represents the end point of the research “Reconstructing community: the Coptic diaspora in Europe. Relations, dynamics and rhetorical strategies” developed between 2017 and 2020 during the 2015 ERC advanced grant ‘Paths’, and the starting point of NEGOTIA.
Main entrance of the Church of S. Giorgio Megalomartire, Rome, Italy © Angela Bernardo, 2018 – All rights reserved
Internal view of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center, Cairo, Egypt © Angela Bernardo, 2022 – All rights reserved
Historical site of the Church of St. Petrus, der letzte Märtyrer, Hamburg, Germany © Angela Bernardo, 2018 – All rights reserved