Hospitality in sanctuary cities

Authored by: Benjamin Boudou

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of the City

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138928787
eBook ISBN: 9781315681597
Adobe ISBN:


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Cities use the daily management of migration as an opportunity to take an ethical stance toward migrants in need of protection from deportation or harassment. They become places of “sanctuary.” This chapter explores how sanctuary practices transform the normative ideal of the city and how they renew our traditional concepts of sovereignty, citizenship, and hospitality toward migrants. I first define what is meant by “city of refuge,” analyzing the context in which Jacques Derrida attempted to reevaluate the link between the city and hospitality. Then, I consider the actual practices of sanctuary cities and argue that they aim at protecting migrants and legitimizing the power and influence of cities. I finally show how sanctuary movements participate in the implementation of human rights and the extension of the concepts of hospitality and citizenship, and suggest an alternative to justice-based motivations to act: Sanctuary and hospitality are opportunities for citizens to exercise virtue beyond what justice requires them (not) to do. I conclude by addressing some criticisms, while defending sanctuary practices as an overarching project of making sanctuary cities communities of interest among citizens and non-citizens.

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