Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationDuke U.
Grant numberGr. 9233
Approve DateApril 8, 2016
Project TitleHung, Carla M., Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on 'Negotiating Care: Political Asylum and Catholic Sanctuary in Italy,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho
Preliminary abstract: As Europe is overwhelmed by African and Middle Eastern refugees arriving on its shores, the political asylum systems of European Union countries are being pushed beyond their limits. In Italy, one of the main receiving countries, the state has sought to address this emergency situation by bringing Catholic charities into the asylum and refugee care process. Asylum practices of Catholic charities, however, have traditionally provided a space of immunity outside the law, which cannot translate neatly into state provisioning of care in the asylum system. Indeed, the work of Catholic charities to care for asylum seekers continues to exceed the bounds of state provisioning. In addition to collaborating with the state to expand its care to refugees, Catholic charities also care for illegal asylum seekers that have fallen outside the limitations imposed by the state. Current asylum practice in Italy thus muddies the separation between church and state, with profound consequences not only for Italy but also for Europe today. My research explores this uneasy alliance to ask: Could this state-church collaboration result in an alternative model for the treatment of refugees? I will employ ethnographic methods to focus on the experience of asylum seekers and care providers at two sites: first, the San Gallicano Hospital in Rome, a historic Catholic hospital where both a state-run medical clinic and a Catholic aid organization collaborate to care for asylum seekers; second, Salaam Palace, an autonomous migrant housing occupation on the periphery of Rome where Catholic charities protect illegal asylum seekers.