: New sanctuary movement
MORE THAN 60 MILLION PEOPLE were forced from their homes in 2015, according to United Nations estimates. This represents the worst year for forced movement since World War II. One in every 122 humans on the planet is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. Whose responsibility is it to provide aid and sanctuary in the face of this calamity? Sanctuary is, by definition, the provision of a safe space in the face of a threat—most generally, for irregular migrants, the threat of detention, deportation, or incarceration. This is a sovereign threat—one defined by the legal codes, judicial systems, and governmental practices of nation-states. The tensions between sovereign threats and providing spaces of sanctuary open up a complex terrain of profoundly important questions about legal and human rights, ethics, the role of religion and faith in activist engagement, and contemporary belonging and identity.
The members of this group discuss the origins and contemporary expressions of sanctuary, and examine the moral outrage that leads to rekindling protest and protection of undocumented immigrants, refugees, and other minorities and vulnerable populations. We also discuss the role of collective action, personal stories, and artistic expressions that are part of the new sanctuary movement. We conclude with a discussion of future directions and an expanded notion of sanctuary beyond the work of faith-based organizations, where sanctuary began, and includes secular organizations who also turn moral outrage into protection of the vulnerable, to protest against injustice, and to foster new expressions of human values, dignity, and action for social justice.
Our Sanctuary Collective idea started with a 2016-17 collaboration grant from the UW Simpson Center for the Humanities, which led to a reading seminar at UW iSchool, a talk at the Simpson Center as part of the “Practicing Humanities Now” series, and the publication of a couple of papers:
Carney, M., Gomez, R., Mitchell, K., & Vannini, S. (2017, May). Sanctuary Planet: A Global Sanctuary Movement for the Time of Trump. Society and Space. Link
Vannini, S., Gomez, R., Carney, M., & Mitchell, K. (in press). Interdisciplinary approaches to refugee and migration studies: Lessons from collaborative research on sanctuary in the changing times of Trump, Migration and Society, 1(1).
Simpson Center Collaboration Grant: https://simpsoncenter.org/projects/migration-and-spaces-sanctuary
Reading Seminar Winter 2017: https://canvas.uw.edu/courses/1114024