Hostile Immigration Policy and the Limits of Sanctuary as Resistance: Counter-Conduct as Constructive Critique

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Hostile Immigration Policy and the Limits of Sanctuary as Resistance: Counter-Conduct as Constructive Critique


  • Cathy A. Wilcock International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  This article addresses the tense relationship between national and municipal approaches to the inclusion and exclusion of irregular immigrant ‘non-citizens.’ While national policies in the UK have created hostility for irregular migrants, municipallevel cities of sanctuary offer a ‘warm welcome’ which has been extolled as immanently progressive in the face of hostility. This article assesses the extent to which city-based sanctuary movements in the UK provide effective resistance to the national policies of hostility. Building on critiques of the City of Sanctuary (CoS) movement, effective resistance is redefined using a Foucauldian counter-conduct approach. Through applying a counter-conduct lens to a document analysis of the CoS newsletter archive and online resources, the article shows it is not easy to dismiss sanctuary as ineffective resistance, as some earlier critiques have argued. Rather, CoS is demonstrated as both effective and ineffective counter-conduct due to its uneven approach to the various discourses within the hostile environment.

Keywords:  cities of sanctuary; counter-conduct; hostile environment; UK immigration policy

Published:   28 November 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v7i4.2353


© Cathy A. Wilcock. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.