Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationStanford U.
Grant numberGr. 10401
Approve DateOctober 11, 2022
Project TitleAmr, Noor (Stanford U.) "Church Asylum: Religion, Migration, and the Boundaries of Political Belonging"
Since the early Middle Ages, churches have often been considered sacred spaces in which persons fleeing political persecution may seek refuge. Today, ‘church asylum’ (Kirchenasyl) in Germany continues to present a formidable challenge to the federal immigration system, offering protection to thousands of rejected asylum-seekers pending deportation. In recent years, immigration authorities have threatened nuns, pastors, and priests with hefty fines and legal action, summoning them to court and producing a media spectacle surrounding the ‘crackdown’ on this practice. Yet despite these condemnations, churches have remained surprisingly successful in persuading immigration authorities to overturn deportation orders. My research thus seeks to explore how Kirchenasyl’a form of protection from the state’becomes a means through which rejected asylum-seekers become legible as subjects worthy of political belonging. Through 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork with churches in Berlin and Bamberg, I investigate how conventional binaries between Christian spaces of worship and governmental deliberations are complicated in the legal contestations undergirding Kirchenasyl practices today.