Practicing sanctuary: the prosaic politics of City of Sanctuary in the United Kingdom

Squire, Vicki and Darling, Jonathan (2012). Practicing sanctuary: the prosaic politics of City of Sanctuary in the United Kingdom. In: Lippert, Randy and Rehaag, Sean eds. Sanctuary Practices in International Perspectives: Migration, Citizenship and Social Movements. Routledge.



The chapter proceeds in four parts. First, we examine the activities of City of Sanctuary by providing an overview of its organisation, ideals and practices. In so doing, we draw distinctions between the formal articulation of sanctuary found in this movement, and the broader ‘patchwork’ of everyday enactments of sanctuary manifest across Sheffield and beyond. The limitations of this formal approach form the focus of the second part of the chapter. The third part sets out how City of Sanctuary activities might be understood as creating opportunities for everyday enactments of sanctuary that disrupt the assignment of positions associated with relations of hospitality. Here we explore the temporality of sanctuary through considering the regulatory potentials of ‘waiting’ as an imposed practice which conditions the lives of those seeking asylum (see Conlon 2011; Schuster 2011). We then consider how informal practices of volunteering potentially question such governmental temporalities of waiting. Drawing attention to the significance of tensions within City of Sanctuary activities, we then turn to the work of Henri Lefebvre (1996) on the ‘right to the city’. We argue that Lefebvre helps to highlight how routines of work, travel and occupation can be of particular significance for challenging uneven relations embedded in sanctuary practices. Specifically, we show how Lefebvre’s work allows for an exploration of how everyday enactments of sanctuary might be tied to a notion of inhabiting the city as a practice that cuts across the positions and assumptions of sanctuary as a form of hospitality. Let us begin, however, by introducing City of Sanctuary.

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