Interdisciplinary Approaches to Refugee and Migration Studies

Lessons from Collaborative Research on Sanctuary in the Changing Times of Trump

in Migration and Society
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  • 1 University of Washington vanninis@uw.edu
  • 2 University of Washington rgomez@uw.edu
  • 3 University of Arizona megcarney@gmail.com
  • 4 University of California Santa Cruz kmitch@ucsc.edu

ABSTRACT

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.

We came together as a group of scholars interested in migration, refugees, and sanctuary studies from a variety of theoretical, methodological, and personal experiences. Despite our disciplinary differences (we were affiliated with departments of geography, communication, anthropology, and information at the University of Washington when we started this work in 2015), we were all concerned by the heightened number of migrants arriving in Europe and the US, fleeing violence and lack of opportunity. Thousands of people, including unaccompanied minors, were crossing the Mediterranean Sea, the Sonoran Desert, or the Rio Grande, only to encounter systemic racial profiling, privatized detention, and expedited deportation proceedings. We were also witnessing a rebirth of citizens’ expressions of solidarity, a growing sense of outrage, and many new, different expressions of sanctuary worldwide. In 2015, Donald Trump was not even a serious contender for the presidency, and the last push for immigration reform in the US Congress was dead. Was there anything we could learn from all of this?

The four of us began our explorations of sanctuary from a historical as well as an interdisciplinary perspective. Unbeknownst to us, we were embarking on a longer and far more complex journey than we had initially conceptualized. Trump’s border wall and exclusion of refugees (among his administration’s many other xenophobic and inhumane policies and statements) quickly dominated the headlines in 2017, and sanctuary practices, both secular and faith-based, resurged in the United States during our period of interdisciplinary study and teaching.

Sanctuary comprises a set of practices and an expression of anger and outrage; as such, it offers an opportunity to engage with new forms of social action and activism, as well as interdisciplinary research and reflection. In our collaboration, we delved into the historical origins of sanctuary, its growth in the 1980s and its rebirth in the 2010s, and its multiple contemporary expressions that surpass the primarily faith-based actions of earlier eras. We organized seminars and reading groups, we participated in demonstrations and marches, and we went on a writing retreat to distill our thinking. We gave talks and published “Sanctuary Planet,” a global sanctuary manifesto for the time of Trump (Carney et al. 2017).

For this inaugural issue of Migration and Society, we discuss our interdisciplinary collaboration process, and promote the importance of interdisciplinary research and reflection to tackle issues of migration, refugees, and sanctuary in the world today. These topics are important and urgent, and we must look at them from multiple perspectives if we are to deepen our understanding of them. At the same time, we need to join forces with a wide variety of researchers and activists with different motivations and forms of action, if we want our scholarship to contribute to social change and social justice globally.

In the following sections we present the theoretical underpinnings of sanctuary as a concept that we analyzed as part of our research collaboration and teaching seminars, situate sanctuary in a wider historical and international context, and introduce the current sociopolitical setting that is generating the rebirth of a sanctuary movement in the US. Based on debriefing conversations between the four authors, we discuss our experience of facilitating a teaching seminar and reflecting on the theory and practices of sanctuary during the first few months of the Trump presidency, when the concept became increasingly pressing. Our goal here is to unpack these experiences and to reflect on the advantages and challenges of our collaboration, especially given the fast-paced political time warp in which we were operating, as well as the climate of rising uncertainty and fear that the ongoing political events generated. In this context, we wanted to make sense of and negotiate new meanings that were gaining purchase around the notion of sanctuary at the same time that our collaborative work—in particular the teaching seminar—took place. These changes were directly related to the election of Trump and his first few months as US president. We highlight some of the pedagogical practices, discursive difficulties, and related tensions that we encountered, including the challenges of combining academic work and activism in this particular time. Finally, we reflect on the future of research on sanctuary, and advocate for expanding and deepening an interdisciplinary dialogue on the topics of sanctuary, refugees, and migration.

Historical Underpinnings of Sanctuary

The roots of sanctuary extend deep in human history (Rabben 2016). At its most basic, sanctuary is the provision of a safe space in the face of a threat. Most recently it has been mobilized in the cause of asylum seekers and forced migrants under threat of deportation, detention, or incarceration. But sanctuary is also a symbol, a set of practices, an ethics, a form of resistance, and a mode of governance. Contemporary notions of sanctuary often draw on faith-based refrains of welcome and protection for those in need, as well as the spatial institutionalization of these themes in religious structures (Rabben 2016; Snyder 2012). Assumptions about sacred space and the possibility of refuge are present in all major religions and many of the smaller spiritual traditions. Rules establishing “cities of refuge” appear in the Old Testament (Rabben 2016); the deep-rooted European tradition that those accused of crimes could be offered protection from sovereign forms of power through church asylum began around 600 AD and was recognized in English law for over a thousand years (Shoemaker 2011). With the growth of liberalism in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, most sanctuary practices in the West were abolished. Rights based on a religious, tribal, or moral order were perceived as hindering the progress of the rule of law.

Nevertheless, even with the expansion of liberal rationalities, many held onto the practices of sanctuary as an alternative form of justice, contending that the ethical values and protection of faith-based actors were necessary in moments of wrongful decisions (Shoemaker 2011), and that laws could be fought based on religious principles and moral outrage (Rabben 2016). Acts of sanctuary that are not directly inspired by faith, however, have occurred at just about every scale of governance. In the context of North America and Europe, we can point to sanctuary demands and practices at the level of the university campus, city, county, state, province, and nation. City-based sanctuary movements have sprung up in both Europe and the US in response to the perceived deficiencies or illegalities of federal responses to migrants and refugees (Lippert and Rehaag 2013).

The sanctuary movement in the US emerged in the 1980s in response to the thousands of Central Americans fleeing violence and dictatorships supported by the US as part of the anti-communist rhetoric of President Reagan. The situation was exacerbated by the assassination of religious leaders in Central America, which galvanized US religious organizations to become increasingly active in protesting US interventions, and in offering shelter and refuge to those fleeing the violence. The creation of three church-based solidarity organizations in the US (Witness for Peace, Sanctuary, and Pledge of Resistance) paved the way for the sanctuary movement as an expression of moral outrage in the face of human rights violations and the humanitarian plight in Central America (Smith 1996). Churches and synagogues, rooted in traditions of social ethics of peace and justice, played an important role in channeling this outrage into political action. Rather than relying only on the mainstream media as sources of information, the religious organizations used personal travel experiences to Central America as well as accounts from asylum seekers describing the abuses they had suffered.

The sanctuary movement in the US declined during the 1990s and 2000s, but experienced a phase of rejuvenation during the Obama era of mass deportations, and yet another following Trump’s egregious declarations and policies against refugees, migrants, and sanctuary cities. In 2012, frustrated by Congressional inaction on immigration reform, President Obama signed executive order DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to offer a reprieve from deportation and give temporary legal status to the DREAMers.1 In 2017 President Trump rescinded DACA and asked Congress for alternative legislation, leaving almost one million undocumented youth to live in fear and legal limbo.

Studying Sanctuary under Trump:Scholarship Keeping Up with Current Affairs

When we started our work on sanctuary in 2015, a Trump presidency that would have disrupted the status quo of the US political and legal arena seemed unlikely. During his first days in office, in January 2017, Trump launched aggressive changes to immigration policy that several commentators identified as an attempt to “white clean” the country (Chait 2017). To list a few, on his fifth day in office Trump signed two executive orders: the “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” and “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” These involved initiating the construction of a wall along the Mexico–US border and suppressing federal grants to sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to comply with immigration enforcement measures. Two days later, he signed the executive order commonly known as the “Muslim travel ban,” which took immediate effect. These and subsequent executive orders received considerable backlash; they were challenged by federal courts, and they ignited a resurgence of the same kind of outrage and political activism that had fueled the sanctuary movement in the 1980s. The rebirth of sanctuary can be seen in the spontaneous re-emergence of sanctuary churches and campuses, and in the defiance with which many cities, counties, and even states declared they would refuse to assist the federal government in enforcing immigration law (see the cases of Boulder, CO, San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, and the states of Washington, Oregon, and California). As public outcry amplified, in September 2017 Trump ended DACA and extended the travel restrictions to people from majority Muslim countries.

We reflect on our experience conducting collaborative research and teaching a reading seminar on sanctuary and migration at the University of Washington in this context of abrupt and drastic political change. Our collaboration occurred during a time when everything was changing faster than we could study it: the 10 weeks of our reading seminar coincided with the first 10 weeks of the Trump presidency, and the social turmoil in relation to immigration, refugees, and sanctuary that his actions unleashed. To structure our reflection, we conducted debriefing conversations in the form of mutual interviews between the four authors. Our goal was to unpack our experiences and reflect on the advantages and the challenges of the seminar, given the rapid time frame in which we operated, the climate of growing anxiety, and the creation and negotiation of new meanings that were emerging related to the concept of sanctuary while our teaching seminar was taking place.

Our discussion revolved around two main topics: the advantages and assets of our interdisciplinary study of sanctuary; and the challenges and tensions encountered in the shifting ground of Trump’s election and presidency in the US. We address these topics below, including a few direct quotes from our debriefing conversations. We conclude with ideas for future research and exploration of understudied aspects of sanctuary practices in society today.

The Achievements, Learning, and Beneficial Practices of an Interdisciplinary Study of Sanctuary

Multi-disciplines and Multi-experiences

The first aspect that we recognized as a positive value of the experience was the multidisciplinary perspectives of the ways in which we approached sanctuary. Each one of us has a different disciplinary background (geography, anthropology, information, and communication), so we assumed different paths into studying a single phenomenon, both in the readings proposed throughout the different modules and in discussions. This resulted in very rich and inspirational conversations both for instruction and research, while simultaneously exposing tensions among our disciplinary perspectives. This occurred not only because of our different outlooks, but also because we have been trained in different methods and epistemologies. Being exposed to different scholarly conventions required stretching our thinking in various ways while addressing tensions when they arose, and produced a more dynamic, transdisciplinary, and collaborative space.

Additionally, we brought to the table expertise and experiences in different regional, linguistic, and cultural areas, as well as different historical moments. We were collectively knowledgeable about different periods of the sanctuary movement, including the lived and embodied experience of Central American migrants and sanctuary seekers in the 1980s and 1990s, the study of faith-based actors and forms of protection currently underway in continental and Southern Europe, the Italian and Greek responses to migrant reception in the Mediterranean, and the experiences of migrants at the US–Mexico border. The breadth and variety of cultural, linguistic, geographical, and historical perspectives that we brought together as a group gave us an awareness and perspective on sanctuary that none of us had on our own.

A Common Language

Working together with an ongoing discussion platform over the course of a year, with a concentrated focus during an academic quarter in which we organized a reading seminar, gave us a common language and a common understanding in the midst of our different perspectives. The teaching seminar forced a more structured selection of readings and discussions than we would have constructed if meeting on our own, and the voices of graduate students and guest speakers added richness and diversity to the discussions.

The fact that we had all that work together with an ongoing discussion, with a set of readings that had given us a common language and a common understanding, in the midst of our different perspectives, this allowed us to come together with a really shared voice that I think would not have been possible without a systematic set of readings.

The fact that an ongoing discussion of sanctuary was occurring in the public sphere at the same time as our reading seminar played a role in shaping our common language and perspectives. From an uncommon term and concept, we acknowledged how the word “sanctuary” seemed to be amplified with new meanings and connotations in everyday discourse. The political context, as well as our multidisciplinary approach, increasingly shaped the shifting meanings of sanctuary for the group.

When I started my own research, I really started by thinking about the Pope and the faith-based nature of sanctuary, particularly Christian sanctuary, but through our readings, through talking with you and your work, including art and poetry, photography and food … it made me have a much bigger and more comprehensive thinking about what sanctuary is, what it could mean and how it could provide refuge of different kinds.

How Teaching Altered the Terrain

Our original plan for the reading group began to shift as a result of the growing interest that our students showed in the topic. We created a seminar that enabled students to get credits for participating, and this made us adopt a more structured approach to our meetings and to the readings than we had initially envisioned. The course included a weekly meeting of three hours, with topics and readings that were clustered around different themes, with guided discussions, and a series of guest speakers. After some hesitation, and in our effort to bring different perspectives to the discussion table, we included a reading that foregrounded (in a somewhat sympathetic manner) the views and feelings of human smugglers (Tinti and Reitano 2016). Even though this text was not directly on the theme of sanctuary, it opened a window into some of the complexities of forced migration, including ethical questions that are generally silenced or assumed to be “common sense.” Introducing this unusual and “risky” perspective gave us pause initially, yet ultimately led to one of our most meaningful discussions with the students. In our “debriefing” conversation together, we reflected on this type of risk in teaching, and how teaching produces unusual conversations that we might otherwise avoid.

This is the kind of thing that might be risky, it might be a complete flop, it might completely take you down a tangent that is useless, or might make you say things that you will regret. As professors we say a lot of things all the time and we don’t know what the students remember and sometimes what sticks is not what we intended to have stick, so that’s an interesting thing to deal with in such a volatile environment and one loaded with humanness, with humanity, with human pain and suffering and injustice. Talking about refugees and sanctuary makes it especially salient—the choice of the readings, the choice of topics, the choice of what to bring into the conversation. We took some risks and some of them paid off and some of them flopped but that’s a particular challenge that I felt in this one in particular that I have not felt as strongly in other teaching experiences.

Challenges of Sanctuary Studies in a Changing Environment

An Unanticipated Flavor and a New Sense of Urgency

The fast and dramatic changes in the US political arena during the time in which we were conducting our seminar made our collaborative effort all the more complex and challenging. We were not prepared for this moment from an instructional point of view. When we first conceptualized the seminar, months earlier, we did not expect Trump to be elected, nor could we foresee such a series of fast-paced changes in immigration policies.

When we first mentioned this project, [one of us] started from the Pope’s words calling on all parishes to take in a refugee family. That was the catalyst that inspired us to move forward with this emphasis on sanctuary. The interesting part in this turning point, when Trump was elected and also started to attack any sort of allegiance to sanctuary in the US, is that these two figures, the Pope and Trump, they could not be more diametrically opposed … in terms of where they stand on human rights, migration and sanctuary, but that infused this project with the flavor that we had simply not anticipated, it shifted all of our optics on how we were thinking about it, because now it’s so close to home…

These changes that we were observing generated a sense of uncertainty and confusion in us as well as in our students. Our ontological framings suddenly toppled as everything we knew or thought we knew about the US crashed around us.

When we started, we didn’t really have this expectation. Then the expectation became reality, but then we didn’t know exactly what was going on with the reality itself. And then when Trump started his presidency, we felt that a lot of things happened very quickly, all the time … I felt that we were trying to frame the reality that was changing under our feet, and while we were doing the readings, we would make comparisons, we would juxtapose our readings, which probably helped us to make sense of our present.

We began to compare the case studies in our readings from Europe and Latin America to what was going on in the US. We felt a new sense of urgency and uncertainty, and the need to modify our activities and strategies to adapt to something that we still could not entirely grasp.

Teaching a Broader Concept of Sanctuary

Sanctuary is no longer understood as just a church-based movement focusing on protecting refugees and asylum seekers. In the US as well as in other parts of the world, the concept of sanctuary encompasses an ethics and a way of life—a means of practicing and embodying expressions of culture, via political action but also through art, poetry, music, images, and food. Sanctuary provides safe spaces for conveying information, practicing acceptance, and affirming migrants’ identities. It is not merely a physical space of refuge.

Beyond the walls of a church, to a university campus, to a city, to a state, to—eventually—the digital space, we redefined and reconceptualized sanctuary. We reflected on the meaning of living in a sanctuary city, and of coming together to share our thoughts in a campus that does not call itself a sanctuary university, but that adopts all of the practices of sanctuary. We wondered how and where digital technologies would hinder or reinvigorate these sanctuary spaces, within and beyond educational spaces. The digital environment can be a strong tool to amplify non-mainstream and minority voices (Sabiescu 2013; Tacchi 2009; Unwin 2009), to show resistance to an unwelcoming political context, and to support populations at risk (Carney et al. 2017). Moreover, digital technologies can support assisting undocumented migrants and other vulnerable populations by providing them with relevant and timely information (Newell et al. 2016). However, the process of storing and sharing data about such vulnerable populations can also significantly exacerbate the risks they face. Information collected and disseminated, for example, can be subject to security breakages, leaks, hacks, inadvertent disclosure, or can be more easily requested by courts. We asked what digital sanctuary looks like in the contemporary moment, and questioned whether a space can still be a sanctuary space if it does not include active measures of data protection, let alone physical refuge.

The resurgence of sanctuary as a broader concept and practice intensified after Trump’s election in November. In the words of Marisa Franco (2017): “Sanctuary is no longer about four walls. … If Trump seeks to strip us of sanctuary, then we must defy him. And our defiance must not simply recreate what existed, but instead expand, reimagine and breathe life into its possibilities. … We are fighting for the widest idea of sanctuary.” While this expanding conceptualization of sanctuary stimulated dialogue and enhanced our intellectual reflection, it simultaneously constituted a challenge for instruction. Formal courses that give credits need condensing and structuring, while our classroom walls were spontaneously expanding and igniting. Because of their own institutional constraints and anxieties, students often feel more comfortable categorizing and learning bite-size chunks of clearly defined “knowledge” rather than embarking on the study of a topic that is constantly shifting. Despite these challenges, however, we strived to work together dynamically and made changes to the curriculum and the readings to try to keep pace with the political and intellectual transformations around us. The students helped by bringing in what they had read or heard on the radio, indicating a profound awareness of the importance and gravity of what was happening. To our knowledge, none of the students in the class were undocumented, but all felt the weight and anxiety of the moment, and shared their concerns with strong emotions.

Combining Academia and Activism

Accepting the broader meaning of sanctuary brings new dimensions to the term that are not necessarily valued in academic works, such as artistic expressions and social or political activism. Sanctuary is not a thing but a process and set of practices. It can be expressed in multiple, often contradictory ways. In the social sciences we are used to this type of multi-dimensionality, but activist actors and organizations do not always respond well to this type of complexity. In activism, because of the politics that often surround it, people tend to frame ideas more in black and white categories, and tend to promote more fixed understandings of concepts or things.

It’s a lot harder to sell a message that is complex, that has contradictory viewpoints all clustered together … that’s the foundation of political organizing or campaigning: stay on message!

As public scholars and academics, one of our biggest struggles is with the existing divide between the complexity of scholarship and the frequent simplifications of activism and/or conventional news sources. On the one hand, we want to honor the complexity that is evident in our research findings, but on the other hand we know that this is not always helpful for generating momentum and a message that works. As a result of this conundrum, many academics tend to avoid these important outlets for our work because we feel that our words and findings are then appropriated and oversimplified or manipulated:

The media tends to want the sound bite, they are very interested in having your statement be, again, in this sort of black and white type of thing, and as soon as you want to tell any complexity or detail they either cut it off or they take what you said out of context from the larger statement that you wanted to make. If you ever had that happen to you, you don’t want it to happen to you again, so you become more and more gun shy around getting your voice out there. But I think it’s also a shame because they do need to hear it from people who have thought deeply about these kinds of issues.

In addition, the idea of sanctuary implies a form of protection and for many activists this is an important motivator. They firmly believe that giving or protecting is helping, and they represent asylum seekers and refugees as political victims in need of help. Academics studying migration, however, recognize that perceptions of victimhood and need can be problematic. In many situations it renders the recipient as passive, both in terms of how the person or group is perceived, and sometimes also in terms of their ability to respond. Many scholars prefer to frame migrants as actors with agency and decisional power rather than passive receivers of help (Bakewell 2010; Owens 2009). This is also true in the case of sanctuary, which some perceive as about “giving” refuge, while others argue for the necessity of asylum claimants to “take” the necessary space and resources in order to avoid being, or being represented as, passive.

In Greece, … refugees themselves tried to take over a hotel so that they could be actively providing their own refuge or sanctuary, but a lot of people felt uncomfortable with their taking over private property, going against the law and becoming active agents on their own. They were not asking for or getting help: they were their own agents. This complicates this idea of sanctuary as something that is given, as something bestowed on someone.

In periods of great urgency, the time required to implement established social science methods (engaged long-term fieldwork, in-depth interviews, large-scale surveys, etc.) is not always compatible with the speed necessary for effective activist responses. The challenge is an ethical one, and the awareness of the “choice” that is being made, and even how to make it, can be extraordinarily stressful.

This paralysis sets in, because as academics, we pay homage to the complexity of social phenomena and so how to act isn’t clear right away, what measures to take, what’s the best route to make a contribution outside of knowledge production. We are so calculated in what actions we take that it can be paralyzing.

These feelings, moreover, change over the course of an academic career:

In my younger years this kind of activism, it was like, there was no question, I was just going to go and be in the middle of it all … but it’s a lot harder now, partly because of life circumstances, but partly also just because of how we are thinking about a problem. I don’t necessarily agree with all the actions that people are deciding to take, I don’t necessarily agree that that’s the best way to get attention or support for a cause. So that is, I guess, part of our role: investigating what is going to be the best action to take.

Conclusions

Sanctuary is a multifaceted expression of contemporary society. It signifies a strong ethical stance reflecting social and political outrage by both secular and faith-based groups and individuals—those who want to do something about the humanitarian crisis of refugees and the egregious migration policies in place today. In our interdisciplinary study of sanctuary, we sought to learn from the past, to understand the origins and historical engagements of sanctuary, as well as present practices and contemporary expressions of sanctuary in the US and globally. In this reflection we shared some of the lessons learned in conducting an interdisciplinary study in the changing environment of the election and presidency of Trump. In particular, we reflected on the particular challenges of studying migration, refugees, and sanctuary when official policies and practices against them become dominant.

The risks that we foresaw when planning the seminar were different from those that took shape in the moment of teaching. These included the highly emotional nature of the material, as our topic went from being relevant and interesting to becoming urgent and visceral. Although there were no undocumented students in the reading group that we were aware of, there were a number of participants and guests, including two of the seminar leaders, who are immigrants or who hold temporary status in the US. The racist language used by the president in his discussion of the need for a wall between the US and Mexico, the emotional tenor of the attacks on refugees and immigrants, and the general racialization of the discourse on all outsiders, especially Muslims, created a challenge in teaching material that suddenly became unexpectedly personal and stressful. But we also felt that this political moment gave us the opportunity to bring undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty, and guests together in a common project of reflection and resistance. On our own, we might have felt isolated and afraid, but together we worked through material that was so intellectually and politically relevant, and we deliberated with such safety and collective support, that we gained confidence in our understandings and our positions, as well as in the value of collaboration across differences of all kinds. Ironically, thus, our disparate backgrounds and perspectives, while leading to some early challenges in putting the reading list together and thinking through the material, ended up providing us with yet another way of “coming together” in a time and space of great risk.

Looking forward, we invite more engaged scholarship that explores sanctuary and migration studies from an interdisciplinary perspective, and we encourage future research on innovative ideas and expressions of sanctuary. These include the digital spaces of sanctuary—those new ways in which digital technologies can afford or prevent sanctuary practices and the protection of vulnerable migrants. We also call for work that foregrounds the agency of refugees and sanctuary providers. Inspired by the resilience and creativity of the sanctuary movement and of our students and each other, we have never lost hope.

NOTE
1

DREAMers is a commonly used label for young people brought to the US as children. Members of this group are well integrated into American society, speak English, and have often graduated from high school, served in the military, and/or attended college. The label comes from the Senate proposed legislation in 2001 for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, an act that was not approved by Congress (Nicholls 2013).

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Contributor Notes

SARA VANNINI is a lecturer at the Integrated Social Sciences and Faculty of Communication of the University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Her research focuses on the use of Information and Communication Technologies for social change and international development, sociocultural appropriation of technology, and visual research methods for participatory research. Her most recent book, Fotohistorias: Participatory Photography and the Experience of Migration, (Createspace, 2015) with Ricardo Gomez, focuses on the use of participatory photography to document the experiences of Hispanic migrants in the US.

RICARDO GOMEZ is Associate Professor at the UW Information School, studying the interactions between people, information, and technology and how they contribute to social justice and community development. His most recent book with Sara Vannini uses participatory photography to document the experiences of Latino migrants in the US, and he has just published Living Fully, (One Equal Heart Foundation, 2017), a book on notions of quality of life among Tseltal indigenous communities in Chiapas, Mexico.

MEGAN CARNEY is a sociocultural and medical anthropologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona. Her research focuses on the intersections of transnational migration and health in the US and the Mediterranean. Her most recent book, The Unending Hunger: Tracing Women and Food Insecurity across Borders (University of California Press, 2015) won the CHOICE award for Outstanding Academic Title.

KATHARYNE MITCHELL, a geographer by training, is currently Dean of Social Sciences at the University of California Santa Cruz. Her recent research in Europe focuses on the provision of sanctuary for migrants by faith-based organizations. She has co-edited a volume with Reece Jones and Jennifer Fluri, Handbook on Critical Geographies of Migration (forthcoming, 2019), and a recent book published with Pluto Press, Making Workers: Radical Geographies of Education (2018).

Migration and Society

Advances in Research

  • Bakewell, Oliver. 2010. “Some Reflections on Structure and Agency in Migration Theory.” Journal of Ethnic & Migration Studies 36 (10): 16891708. doi:10.1080/1369183X.2010.489382.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carney, Megan, Ricardo Gomez, Katharyne Mitchell, and Sara Vannini. 2017. “Sanctuary Planet: A Global Sanctuary Movement for the Time of Trump.” Society & Space, May. http://societyandspace.org/2017/05/16/sanctuary-planet-a-global-sanctuary-movement-for-the-time-of-trump/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chait, Jonathan. 2017. “Donald Trump, White Supremacy, and the Discourse of Panic.” Daily Intelligencer, 24 September. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/donald-trump-white-supremacy-and-the-discourse-of-panic.html.

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