Reconceptualizing the Nation in Sanctuary Practices: Toward a Progressive, Relational National Politics?

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This article explores sanctuary in Wales, focusing on the Welsh Government’s recent declaration to become a Nation of Sanctuary (NoS), and identifying how the national scale provides an alternative locus for progressive sanctuary measures. In revealing the nation’s emergence as another crucial site of sanctuary, the work reconceptualizes the nation’s place in sanctuary policies and practices in two ways: (i) it locates sanctuary through a national scale, thus moving beyond the city/state dichotomy that has dominated explanations of sanctuary, and (ii) it shows the importance of decoupling the nation-state compound while simultaneously integrating the nation(al) into discussions on sanctuary without being bound to the state or xenophobic populism. In showing how “nations against the state” can participate in sanctuary measures, we expand the current understanding of where sanctuary can be found, and capture the various forms of national belonging and identities that exist within plurinational states, including alternative, progressive forms of civic belonging. This is particularly significant in light of the tightening of state immigration policies, greater regulation of immigrant entry at state borders, and continuation of restrictive citizenship policies witnessed in recent years, which have ignited sanctuary measures aimed at creating safe spaces beyond the reach of state measures.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberolae006
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Issue number2
Early online date22 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2024


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