Sanctuary in Comparative Perspective

Migration and the Spaces of Sanctuary

Simpson Center Funded Research, 2016-2017:
Collaboration Studio Grant with Katharyne Mitchell, Ricardo Gomez and Megan Carney

In the context of growing numbers of irregular migrants in Europe and deportations in the United States, many faith-based institutions have begun to offer spaces of sanctuary or ‘church asylum’ to immigrants who may be evading national laws and regulations. Beginning as a US-based social movement of the 1980s, contemporary sanctuary incidents are now increasingly global, and represent a significant challenge to sovereign legal codes, judicial systems, and governmental practices. We wish to study sanctuary as an historical idea, an ethics, a narrative of faith and belief, and a set of practices. Bringing together our diverse interests in digital information and communication; identities of race, place and nation; and health and biopolitics—as well as three very different sets of linguistic, methodological, and regional competencies—our project has three major objectives: a) to initiate an interdisciplinary area of critical scholarship in migration studies; b) to build a new migration ‘cluster’ at UW; and c) to apply for two major external grants. A collaborative studio grant would give us the time necessary to launch this long-term project.