de Gruyter, 2021
This chapter examines the role of religion in a transnational space, shaped mainly by migrant and development actors between the region of Baltistan, in north-eastern Pakistan, and Kuwait. Migration from Baltistan to the Gulf, and to Kuwait in particular, is strongly connected to a specific socioeconomic context determined by the existence of the Kashmir dispute, but also to a shared religious belonging to the Twelver Shia faith of Islam. Development aid from Kuwait in north-eastern Pakistan is framed in socio-economic terms and in terms of the religious duty in Islam to share and distribute wealth, although this charity activity does not require that the recipients follow the same faith. By addressing the understanding of the religious among actors involved in this transnational space, such as migrants, employees, and donors of economic aid, the chapter discusses the interrelations between the religious and the political (as the realm of the public sphere) in the context of this transnational space. While noting that religion helps to structure specific collectives beyond existing sovereign borders and therefore has an ordering character that amounts to a political dimension, the understanding of the religious in transnational spaces cannot be divorced from existing power hierarchies in which religion is inscribed.