Making a Refuge of Resistance: A History of the U.S. Sanctuary Movement

Mon 2/12/2024 • 3:30PM - 4:45PM PST

Royce 314

In person (Royce 314)
Is sacred space protective space? This question lies at the heart of the Sanctuary Movement, the most confrontational progressive religious social movement in the United States since the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement. Modern Sanctuary Movement activists adopted the ancient practice of protecting in designated sanctuaries individuals who stood in legally precarious conditions. From the 1980s to the present day, this practice has protected undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation by offering them refuge in churches, where federal agents to this day still fear to tread. The movement has distinguished itself over the past 40 years, according to one historian, as the “largest mass mobilization of civil disobedience against detention and deportation in US history.”

“Making a Refuge of Resistance” asks how these houses of worship protected migrants from immigration enforcement authorities. What histories and testimonies rendered such spaces sacred and lent houses of worship qualities of safe refuge? This lecture is based on Professor Barba’s ongoing research on the Sanctuary Movement.

Lloyd Barba is an Assistant Professor of Religion and Core Faculty in Latinx and Latin American Studies at Amherst College. He is the author of Sowing the Sacred: Mexican Pentecostal Farmworkers in California (Oxford University Press, 2022). He is also the editor of Latin American and U.S. Latinx Religion in North America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2023). Most recently, he co-edited Oneness Pentecostalism: Race, Gender, and Culture (Penn State University Press, 2023). He is now writing a religious biography of Cesar Chavez and several projects on the U.S. Sanctuary Movement from the 1980s to the present day. His work has been featured in the Washington Post, The Conversation US, and other media outlets. He is teaching a course on Latinx Religion for UCLA’s Center for the Study of Religion this winter quarter.

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