Sanctuary Practices


About the Project

Sanctuaries are not only about cities and spaces that shield the undocumented; they are also about practices and temporalities of resistance, experimentation, and insurgency. In the harshening immigration climates of the present, the organizers of this project deem sanctuary practices to attain a particular urgency both as an invaluable practical form of resistance and as a unique theoretical opportunity to delineate the contradictions and dilemmas of contemporary liberal-democratic regimes. These regimes are under increasing pressures due to increased mobility, but their dominant response is to build walls, securitize borders, and intensify control over movement rather than embrace diversity, inclusion, and social justice. This project studies diverse modalities of sanctuary practice, the different cultural, religious, and political traditions they build on, and how they re-configure the spaces, times, and politics of democratic citizenship. At the same time, it aims to consider the new institutional forms that emerge from within sanctuary sites as experiments in solidarity and community, the novel relations they foster among people in the sanctuary and in connection to broader contexts to which they are connected, and the different subjectivities that are shaped by these emergent encounters and radical practices.

Led by Associate Professor Banu Bargu and Professor Massimiliano Tomba of the History of Consciousness Department, this project is supported by the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) and works in conjunction with the Humanities Institute-sponsored research cluster, After Neoliberalism.


October 9-10, 2019: Democratic Interpellations Conference

February 8, 2019: Elizabeth Allen “Sanctuary and Medieval Kings”

October 31, 2018: Michel Feher “Creditworthiness – The Political Stake of the Speculative Age”

October 25-26, 2018: Time, Sanctuary and Decoloniality