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CRS Seminar: Welcoming cities? Understanding sanctuary in securitized nation-states

Guest Speaker:
Rachel Humphris, Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary, University of London
Worldwide, anti-migrant movements are growing. National governments in North America and Europe have adopted policy goals of creating hostile environments for non-citizens creating a politics of fear and ‘internal borders’ (Yuval Davis 2018, Back 2019). Alongside, an outpouring of volunteerism and alternative practices and discourses have emerged, particularly in cities. Balancing a national ‘hostile environment’ and localised ‘sanctuary movement’, city actors make life-changing decisions about non-citizens’ access to the city through non-cooperation policies with the potential to create new imaginaries and practices of urban belonging.
In this presentation, Dr Rachel Humphris will present her findings from one year’s fieldwork in the first sanctuary city in Canada (Toronto), USA (San Francisco) and UK (Sheffield). The paper analyses the political and moral economy of ‘sanctuary’ comparing urban policy making, immigrant rights advocacy and faith-based organising. The paper focuses on the intertwining of housing rights and sanctuary in global cities marked by gentrification, internal displacements and the role of housing officers and landlords as internal border guards. This paper will frame these local and global processes through a decentralized analysis of race, space and politics to elaborate on the potentials for practices of urban belonging where sanctuary and housing rights become entwined.

Dr Rachel Humphris is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary, University of London. Previously, was a Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Birmingham (2017 – 2019) and Research Fellow at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, University of Oxford (2014-2017). Rachel has been a visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, University of California at Berkeley and the University of Sheffield. She is currently a visiting scholar at York University, Toronto in the Centre of Refugee Studies.
Rachel is a political anthropologist working at the intersection between migration, globalisation and urbanisation to understand social inequalities. She is exploring how migration is creating new urban dynamics requiring new methodologies and theoretical approaches to re-think the contemporary city. Her research agenda touches on several themes including radical positive programmes for urban futures; the influence of various forms of mobility on urban political and moral economies; and the governance of urban marginality.
Her research programme is methodologically diverse, theoretically grounded and empirically driven. She employs qualitative research methods that engage with theories and debates in migration studies, social policy and critical urbanism. Much of her work is inherently interdisciplinary, cutting across research in anthropology, gender studies, geography, politics, public policy and sociology. Her published research can be found in Antipode, Geopolitics, the Sociological Review, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Social Identities and Critical Public Health, among others. Her monograph based on her DPhil anthropological research with Romanian Roma migrant mothers in the ‘downscaled’ urban context of Luton, was published with University of Bristol/University of Chicago Press in March 2019.


Oct 22 2019


2:30 pm - 4:00 pm


280N York Lanes @ 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON M3J1P3
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