Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

College of Arts and Sciences


Global Languages and Cultures

Major Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty


In the late 1970s through the 1980s, sanctuary movements emerged in the United States to support and provide sanctuary for immigrants and asylum seekers without a legal status of U.S. citizenship. This movement has its roots in the ancient church tradition of offering sanctuary to people accused of crimes. Religious leaders offered protection against the government in the name of their beliefs. It is a cycle that has often been repeated throughout history from the medieval European era to abolitionists helping runaway enslaved people in the United States to the contemporary movements existing today. This project explores and analyzes three past sanctuary movements and includes an oral history of contemporary sanctuary activists in an effort to gain an understanding of the past and present of sanctuary. Through an analysis of diverse sources, I offer up my own understanding of sanctuary its current context: an adaptable refuge (whether it be church, home, city, or country) providing hospitality, healing, and protection, and as a call to action against injustices to achieve the necessary reform and healing as a path to move forward.