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Religious Identity and Borderless Territoriality in the Coptic e-Diaspora


In recent decades, Coptic Egyptian immigrants have steadily adopted new homelands throughout the world, most significantly in Europe, North America, and Australia. Their efforts perpetuate their religious and cultural identity and connect diaspora communities and experiences to the mother church as well as to the realities of marginalization and persecution of their co-religionists in Egypt. However, relatively little research has been carried out on the virtual or digital presences of diaspora Copts, all the more significant in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring. Focusing on religious identity, this article fills a lacuna by analyzing three case studies of electronic identity mediation and preservation in the Coptic diaspora: (1) the online ecclesiastical-pastoral and educational presence of Bishop Suriel of Melbourne, (2) the spiritual-social-cultural mission of the Los Angeles-based Coptic television station LogosTV, and (3) the global collaborative academic project of the digital Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia. These are part of an emerging electronic Coptic diaspora (e-diaspora)—a form of borderless territoriality—that functions to compensate for the loss of territorial and socio-religious-cultural-political control in Egypt and provide Copts with virtual territorial gains and borderless space for community and consciousness raising.

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  1. International law and agreements such as the United Nations agreements on human rights, against slavery, human trafficking, etc.

  2. (accessed January 30, 2016).

  3. Email correspondence with Bishop Suriel, December 2014.

  4. In the early 2000s, attempts to establish Coptic television programs in America were successful, but only for a short period due to a lack of adequate financial resources. In 2007, two Coptic channels were launched and have been broadcasting from Egypt 24 h a day to most of the Coptic world via satellite: Aghapy TV ( and Coptic TV (

  5. Since the late 1960s, CGU has earned an international reputation in Coptic Studies, most famously because of Professor James Robinson’s leadership in translating, studying, and publishing the Nag Hammadi codices discovered in Upper Egypt in 1945. This Coptic library is partially digitized and archived at the Claremont Colleges Digital Library: (accessed January 30, 2016).

  6. (accessed January 30, 2016).

  7. (accessed January 30, 2016).


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Correspondence to Donald A. Westbrook.

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Westbrook, D.A., Saad, S.M. Religious Identity and Borderless Territoriality in the Coptic e-Diaspora. Int. Migration & Integration 18, 341–351 (2017).

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  • Copts
  • Coptic Orthodox Church
  • Diaspora
  • Assimilation
  • Territoriality
  • Identity