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Migration and the Spaces of Sanctuary

Year of Funding: 
A young man walking past graffiti-ed wall that reads "justice" and "no wall/border"

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 research group explore these questions by initiating an interdisciplinary area of critical scholarship in migration studies. Working in collaboration, they build a vibrant migration cluster and disseminate ideas in colloquia and public events both on and off campus.

Researcher Interests

  • Katharyne Mitchell: Spaces of sanctuary
  • Ricardo Gomez: Sanctuary, migration and information
  • Megan Carney: Sanctuary in Europe and the US


Primary Contacts

Katharyne Mitchell (Geography)

Megan Carney (Anthropology)

Ricardo Gomez (Information School)