From Community Cohesion to Mobile Solidarities: The City of Sanctuary Network and the Strangers into Citizens Campaign

This article draws attention to the limitations of the UK’s integration and cohesion agenda and introduces an alternative analytical approach that focuses on solidarity, mobility and citizenship over cohesion, integration and community. Developing such an approach through analysing the City of Sanctuary network and the Strangers into Citizens campaign, the article has two interrelated objectives. First, it aims to shed critical light on the assumptions regarding community that inform the UK’s integration and cohesion agenda, which involves a series of contradictions that exclude asylum seekers and irregular migrants as subjects of integration and cohesion. Second, it aims to offer some reflections on how these assumptions are challenged by the City of Sanctuary network and the Strangers into Citizens campaign, based on the activation of mobile solidarities that cut across established social hierarchies. In so doing, the article suggests that the UK’s approach to integration and cohesion is flawed because it overlooks engagements and solidarities in which cultural categories and legal distinctions are extraneous, while at the same time it privileges the collective engagements of established residents over those whose presence may be more fleeting or less definite. In order to demonstrate the inadequacies of such an approach, the article shows how minor acts of citizenship that are mobilised by City of Sanctuary and Strangers into Citizens enact a mobile form of solidarity based on participation through presence. This, the article argues, potentially serves as the grounds for a critical alternative to an approach that assumes that intensified movements and diversities induce hostility.

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