Project

Migration and the Spaces of Sanctuary

Goal: I'm looking at the role of faith-based organizations in providing sanctuary to migrants at risk of deportation. I'm interested in the transnational networking between churches, the differing rationalities of humanitarian governance, and the ways that this practice can be conceptualized as a form of insurgent democracy. The fieldwork in Europe, which I'm just finishing up, is funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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Project log

Katharyne Mitchell
added a research item
We reflect on the experience of a cross-disciplinary collaboration between scholars in the fields of geography, anthropology, communication, and information studies, and suggest paths for future research on sanctuary and migration studies that are based on interdisciplinary approaches. After situating sanctuary in a wider theoretical, historical, and global context, we discuss the origins and contemporary expressions of sanctuary both within and beyond faith-based organizations. We include the role of collective action, personal stories, and artistic expressions as part of the new sanctuary movement, as well as the social and political forms of outrage that lead to rekindling protest and protection of undocumented immigrants, refugees, and other minorities and vulnerable populations. We conclude with a discussion on the urgency for interdisciplinary explorations of these kinds of new, contemporary manifestations of sanctuary, and suggest paths for further research to deepen the academic dialogue on the topic.
Katharyne Mitchell
added 4 research items
In recent years social scientists have been interested in the growth and transformation of global cities. These metropolises, which function as key command centers in global production networks, manifest many of the social, economic, and political tensions and inequities of neoliberal globalization. Their international appeal as sites of financial freedom and free trade frequently obscures the global city underbelly: practices of labor exploitation, racial discrimination, and migrant deferral. This chapter explores some of these global tensions, showing how they have shaped the strategies and technologies behind urban crime prevention, security, and policing. In particular, the chapter shows how certain populations perceived as risky become treated as pre-criminals: individuals in need of management and control before any criminal behavior has occurred. It is demonstrated further how the production of the pre-criminal can lead to dispossession, delay, and detention as well as to increasing gentrification and violence.
This article examines how contending constructions of safe space for migrants reflect the geopoliticization of humanitarianism and its geosocial discontents. It contrasts geopolitical constructions of safe space that have been used by European authorities to justify and administer Hotspots with geosocial efforts to construct safe space through practices of solidaristic accommodation. The article documents the ways in which Hotspots have made migrants unsafe, even as they have been simultaneously justified in humanitarian terms as making both Europe and refugees safer. It further illustrates, by contrast, how counter-constructions of safe space can take divergent geosocial forms. These varied geosocial formations of accommodation emerge out of embodied space-making struggles for physical safety, personal dignity, organizational autonomy, radical democracy, spatial liberty, and social community. They create context-contingent alternatives to Hotspot geopolitics as well as opportunities for migrants and their allies to critique the limits of official humanitarianism. But they also remain overdetermined by the dominant border politics that Hotpots are supposed to secure. For these reasons, the borderlands between the abstract geopolitics of Hotspot humanitarianism and the embodied geosocial constructions of solidarity show safe space to be at once complex, compromised, and constantly contested.
In the context of giving and receiving church asylum in Europe, forced migrants and their supporters both take and invoke spaces and territorial scales other than the nation-state to buttress claims to rights. These include ‘spaces’ at the scale of the spiritual, international, supranational, urban, church, and parish. These ‘non-national’ spaces are invoked and claimed in an attempt to form a public archipelago of safety for asylum claimants. In many ways, this may be perceived as the spatial and political inverse of what Mountz (2011) has termed the “enforcement archipelago”—those enclaves of detention in which asylum-seekers are held away from or outside of state-based, sovereign territories. The sanctuary incidents are important for making asylum claimants visible, and for publicly contesting the state’s authority over these types of alternative or ‘sacred’ spaces. By focusing on the spaces and claims of sanctuary advocacy, it is possible to document new forms of highly networked, transnational democratic activism or insurgent citizenship that challenge and transform normative state politics and the meanings of the political. While much of migration scholarship has emphasized the dramatic contemporary increase in state violence and exclusionary policies directed at migrants, it is only in recent years that scholarship has turned to examine the various alliances and networks that have brought diverse groups together in acts of resistance that also rework and remake political geographies of democratic negotiation
Katharyne Mitchell
added a research item
In the context of increasing numbers of vulnerable migrants in Europe, many churches and other faith-based organizations have provided sanctuary to those at risk of deportation. This paper sheds light on the rationalities and practices of actors such as these, and in what ways their beliefs may be different from liberal norms. Investigating both liberal and faith-based understandings of space, time, and freedom I look at the ways that multiple webs of belief intersect to form new constellations of power in humanitarian governance.
Katharyne Mitchell
added a research item
This chapter examines how practices, ideas, and spaces of refugee protection are coordinated across national borders, forming what we call a sanctuary network. Our focus is on Europe, where activist churches and related institutions share information, contacts, and strategies for aiding and sheltering migrants. We investigate several key transnational institutions, including the German Ecumenical Committee on Church Asylum (GECCA) and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), as well as a number of critical actors and events. To better grasp the formation of cross-border relationships and their successes and limitations we turn to existing literature on policy transfer and transnational activist networks. Such scholarship, we argue, cannot fully account for the socially, politically, and physically embedded qualities of sanctuary networks, which have existed in various forms for centuries. Drawing on interviews and archival data, we show how faith actors continually “reactivate” historical landscapes of collective memory and alternative forms of justice associated with both the concepts and the spatial practices of sanctuary. The sanctuary network is therefore understood not only as a bundle of solidarities across space – but also across time.
Katharyne Mitchell
added an update
I'm working with a bunch of great colleagues at UW to create a global sanctuary collective. So far the group includes Ricardo Gomez, Information School; Sara Vannini, Communications; and Megan Carney, Anthropology and Integrated Social Sciences. Together we wrote a manifesto that is coming out soon on Society and Space's Open Website. I'm attaching it here as well!
 
Katharyne Mitchell
added an update
The reading group starts off with five faculty (Katharyne, Megan, Ricardo, Sara, and Fernando who was absent today) and five graduate students (Nina (MSIM), Kelly, Alice and Frederick (MLIS), and Alex (International Relations and Public Policy)). In addition we have the occasional guest speaker including Carlos, today, who joined the mailing list as well.  What a great group! If you are registering as a student, it is INFX 508A, Reading Seminar: Sanctuary and Information. 2 credits, cr/no cr.  Assignments are a weekly reading note of one of the assigned readings, work with lead in facilitating one session, and final reflection max 4 pgs. Details athttps://canvas.uw.edu/courses/1114024/assignments Basic book is Rabben, L. (2016). Sanctuary and Asylum: A Social and Political History (Links to an external site.). University of Washington Press.  We meet every Tuesday in Bloedel 070A except for Feb 28  when we meet in Simpson Center for Humanities for Jose Riera talk.  Remote participants will use KUBI, or if we need more flexibility for others to join in, ZOOM:https://uw-ischool.zoom.us/j/8246900430 A few notes on communication that we agreed on today: 1. We will use this mailing list to communicate and any discussion about the work we are undertaking.  Send messages to sanctuary@uw.edu (from the email address you are receiving this note, otherwise it will bounce). 2. Canvas has all the reading seminar materials, readings, who facilitates, and submission of reading notes and final reflections by students. Canvas can be edited by faculty, so if you have a change to suggest and cannot enter it directly send it to the faculty in charge of facilitating the day in question. https://canvas.uw.edu/courses/1114024 3. Facebook will be the place to post events and other invitations.https://www.facebook.com/UWmigration/ 4. The Simpson Center site is for general info only, and is not easily updated. You can ignore that one.  https://simpsoncenter.org/projects/migration-and-spaces-sanctuary 5. A future site is being created to collect other info, events, participants and people at UW interested in the topic of sanctuary, migration, etc. Details to come. For future sessions, we confirmed the following facilitators for each. Each facilitator will make sure description and readings are complete and posted online in advance for that session, prepare a short summary or presentation of the topic, and prepare discussion questions and process.  Students will select one and work with the facilitator to prepare something for discussion for that day. Quick overview of who is doing each session – each one in charge of completing the info on Canvas as follows:
Jan 10: Intro – Sanctuary and Refugee – Ricardo (with Carlos Mejia)
Jan 17: Overview - Sanctuary and Refugee – Ricardo (with Jorge Baron TBC)
Jan 24: European Perspectives – Megan
Jan 31: European Perspectives 2 – Megan
Feb 7: Smugglers and Border Crossing – RicardoFeb 14: Information Practices and Migration – Fernando (with guest Vero Guajardo)Feb 21: Contemporary Sanctuary – SaraFeb 28:  Spatial Dimension of Sanctuary – Katharyne (with Jose Riera-Cezanne)March 7: Political Rationality – Report from Whiteley Center and final celebration – Katharyne  
 
Katharyne Mitchell
added an update
We have formed a migration cluster at the University of Washington on the theme of migration and sanctuary. Here's our Facebook Page link: https://www.facebook.com/UWmigration/
Please join!
We also have a reading group that meets on Tuesday afternoons at 1:30 in Blodel.
 
Katharyne Mitchell
added 2 research items
Celebrity humanitarianism is a form of advocacy for the poor and ill, primarily those populations residing in developing regions of the world. Often the celebrities attempt to galvanize support and care for these distant populations through various kinds of emotional practices, which are promoted and sustained across space through the invocation of community and the use of new social media. The articulation of community, empathy, and fan activism creates an experience of citizenship that appears to transcend national borders and enable affective relations between distant individuals and places. This paper analyzes the mechanisms of emotion in the constitution of these deterritorialized networks, including the specific practices and pastoral language through which individuals are drawn into feelings of transnational solidarity through fan groups and fan-celebrity engagement. Further, it addresses the ways in which the emotional enrollment of individuals in this vein can be read as part of a larger process of neoliberal citizenship formation and depoliticization, in which subjects are subtly directed away from state-based responses to problems of poverty and ill health and towards more individualized, enterprising, and market-mediated forms of social aid.
New actors and ideas about poverty management and humanitarian assistance have arisen in recent years. The underlying context of this shift includes a growing awareness of the limitations and failures of both military forms of humanitarian intervention and unfettered market-based solutions to aid and development. This paper explores the particular form that global humanitarianism is taking in this millennial context. I argue that a new configuration of humanitarian reason is emerging that draws on both neoliberal and pastoral rationalities of governance. The former can be associated with efficiency, transparency, and quantitative evidence, while the latter is articulated with individual compassion, devotion, and Christian duty. Using the celebrity humanitarian Bono and his rhetoric of ‘factivism’ as an illustrative example, the paper explores the way that this message is transmitted through geosocial discourses and networks. It indicates some of the ways that the personal and media dissemination of this new ideology of charismatic, yet rational care helps to weave pastoral rationalities into forms of political authority.
Katharyne Mitchell
added a project goal
I'm looking at the role of faith-based organizations in providing sanctuary to migrants at risk of deportation. I'm interested in the transnational networking between churches, the differing rationalities of humanitarian governance, and the ways that this practice can be conceptualized as a form of insurgent democracy. The fieldwork in Europe, which I'm just finishing up, is funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship.