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Open access

Immigrant Sanctuary or Danger

Health Care and Hospitals in the United States

Beatrix Hoffman

Abstract

Hospitals have for centuries been considered safe havens for immigrants and people on the move. However, immigrants and migrants who seek health care have also been targeted for exclusion and deportation. This article discusses the history of how hospitals and health care facilities in the United States have acted both as sanctuaries and as sites of immigration enforcement. This debate came to a head in California in the 1970s, when conservatives began attacking local public health facilities’ informal sanctuary practices. Following the California battles, which culminated in Proposition 187 in 1994, immigrant rights movements have increasingly connected calls for sanctuary with demands for a right to health care.

Open access

“It's a Big Umbrella”

Uncertainty, Pentecostalism, and the Integration of Zimbabwe Exemption Permit Immigrants in Johannesburg, South Africa

Tinashe Chimbidzikai

Abstract

This article questions the dominant narrative that considers displaced persons as victims, powerless, and lacking agency to shape their individual and collective conditions. Based on an ethnographic study of largely Zimbabwe Exemption Permit holders living in Johannesburg, the article argues that Pentecostalism offers an alternate worldview that draws on religious beliefs and practices to express triumph over everyday adversities and vicissitudes of forced mobility. The article concludes that such beliefs and practices embolden and espouse individual and collective agency among “born-again” migrants, as they mobilize religious social networks for individuals to make sense of the uncertainties engendered by displacement.

Open access

Gilad Ben-Nun

Abstract

This article examines Jewish law's approach to forced migration. It explains the difference under Jewish law between forced migration brought about by disasters and the state of being a refugee—which is directly associated with war and armed conflict. It continues by demonstrating how these distinctions influenced the religious Jewish authors of the 1951 Refugee Convention. It concludes with the fundamental distinction between Jewish law and Roman law, concerning the latter's application of a strong differentiation between citizens and migrant foreigners, which under Jewish law was entirely proscribed as per the religious duty to accord hospitality to forced migrants irrespective of their background.

Open access

Rebecca M. Schreiber

Abstract

This article examines how Central American migrant and refugee youth imagine forms of sanctuary through collaborative artwork as part of a series of Arte Urgente (Urgent Art) workshops led by artist Caleb Duarte. This artwork involved a critical embodiment and reenvisioning of their past and present experiences in the form of performance. In addition, their creation of a symbolic Embassy of the Refugee was an imaginative way of asserting their right to protection. This article examines how members of affected communities have made artistic interventions into public spaces to focus attention on the nation-state as a site of crisis as well as envision autonomous, noninstitutional sanctuary spaces for each other, while also engaging in ongoing practices of solidarity with other displaced people.

Open access

Photography as Archive

The Self and Other in Isolation: An Interview with Saiful Huq Omi, followed by The Human that Is Lacking: A response to Saiful Huq Omi's photograph

Yousif M. Qasmiyeh and Saiful Huq Omi

Abstract

In this interview, Yousif M. Qasmiyeh enters into conversation with Saiful Huq Omi, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker and founder of Counter Foto-A Centre for Visual Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on issues spanning from photography in the era of COVID and what it means, in this situation of stasis and containment worldwide, to continue photographing; to the intimate as revealed by the photograph; photographing (across) different geographies and national borders; on Rohingya refugees as both the photographed and the unphotographed; the archive and the afterlives of photography; and, finally, how to envision an equitable future between the photographer and the photographed.

In the form of poetic fragments, “The Human that is Lacking” offers a response to Saiful Huq Omi's photograph reproduced in these pages, in an attempt to “co-see” the image with the photographer. The image and its response sit alongside Yousif M. Qasmiyeh's interview with the award-winning photographer and film-maker himself (also in this issue).

Open access

The Pope's Public Reason

A Religious yet Public Case for Welcoming Refugees

Aurélia Bardon

Abstract

Since the beginning of Europe's “refugee crisis,” Pope Francis has repeatedly argued that we should welcome refugees. This, he said, is an obligation for Christians who have “a duty of justice, of civility, and of solidarity.” This religious justification is a problem for liberal political philosophers who are committed to the idea of public reason: state action, they argue, must be justified to all citizens based on public, generally accessible reasons. In this article, I argue that the claim that liberal public reason fully excludes religion from the public sphere is misguided; not all religious reasons are incompatible with the demands of Rawlsian public reason. Understanding how a religious reason can be public requires looking into both what makes a reason religious and what makes a reason public. I show that the pope's reason supporting the claim that we should welcome refugees is both religious and public.

Open access

“A Refugee Pastor in a Refugee Church”

Refugee-Refugee Hosting in a Faith-Based Context

Karen Lauterbach

Abstract

This article discusses “refugee-refugee hosting” in a faith-based context. It looks particularly at Congolese churches in Kampala, Uganda, that play a crucial role for Congolese refugees seeking refuge and protection. The article analyzes hybrid forms of hosting in a faith-based context and discusses the implications of this for how guest and host categories are perceived. Four different patterns of refugee-refugee hosting are explored in which the relationship between host and guest as well as pastor and church member differ. The article argues that social status and hierarchies are important for how hosting is practiced. Moreover, religious ideas of gift giving, sacrifice, and reciprocity also influence hosting in this context.

Open access

Representing Sanctuary

On Flatness and Aki Kaurismäki's Le Havre

Vinh Nguyen

Abstract

This article takes sanctuary as a problematizing challenge to the state, coming into effect when political asylum fails or is denied. Sanctuary, it argues, offers a form of protection that does not take legality as its basis or reference point, and in fact often subverts such legality. Thinking with Aki Kaurismäki's Le Havre (2011), this article seeks to understand the kinds of “individual” protection that sanctuary makes possible, and what they illuminate about conceptions of refuge that do not require sovereign authorization, but instead find their foundations in interpersonal relationality, solidarity, and community formations. Through a “flat migrant aesthetics”—deadpan, anti-realism, and unarticulated motivation—Kaurismäki's film dislodges automated perceptions and clichéd narrative expectations to redirect attention to human solidarities and the building of sanctuary, on and off screen.

Open access

Sacred Welcomes

How Religious Reasons, Structures, and Interactions Shape Refugee Advocacy and Settlement

Benjamin Boudou, Hans Leaman, and Maximilian Miguel Scholz

Abstract

This special section explores the role of religious ideas and religious associations in shaping the response of states and non-state actors to asylum-seekers and refugees. It brings together insights from anthropology, law, history, and political theory to enrich our understanding of how religious values and resources are mobilized to respond to refugees and to circumvent usual narratives of secularization. Examining these questions within multicultural African, European, and North American contexts, the special section argues that religion provides moral reasons and structural support to welcome and resettle refugees, and constitutes a framework of analysis to better understand the social, legal, and political dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in contexts of migration.

Open access

Sanctuary in Countries of Origin

A Transnational Perspective

Alexandra Délano Alonso

Abstract

While current interpretations of sanctuary are most often associated with practices to protect, support, and accompany migrants with precarious status in countries of destination in the Global North, debates around the concept and practice of sanctuary in countries of origin reveal different historical and contemporary understandings. This article explores questions related to sanctuary's symbolic and political power in the Mexican context, specifically examining three cases: the Mexico City government's declaration as a sanctuary city—specifically for returned migrants—in April of 2017, the work of migrant shelters along migration routes in Mexico, and the work of Otros Dreams en Acción to accompany deported and returned migrants and the establishment of Poch@ House as a sanctuary space in Mexico City.