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Sanctuary, Fugitivity and the Public University

Communication Colloquium
Dr. Karma R. Chavez
Thursday, March 23rd, 3:30pm
Reading Room 2120


Calls for public universities as sanctuary deserve sustained consideration as they open up space for conversations about how to support vulnerable students, faculty, and staff. As a queer migration scholar, I take cue from Nicholas De Genova’s important essay arguing that protestors in the 2006 immigration marches enacted a queer politics of immigration by insisting “Aqui estamos, y no nos vamos!” In this talk, I want to advocate for thinking of sanctuary as a similar queer politics, but one that works from the undercommons of the university and engages practices of fugitivity.

I begin by defining the concept of sanctuary in its complexity, emphasizing its fundamental existence as sacred space, a protective refuge, and a site of immunity for fugitives. I then discuss the problems sanctuary poses on US public university campuses, including the problem of trusting law enforcement. From there,

I discuss sanctuary in relation to the concept of the undercommons, and what I call queer politics of fugitivity, a practice of colluding with the criminalized that emphasizes insurgent models of support.

Last Updated: 9/20/21