Solidarity and sanctuary: the Guatemalan exodus and the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas

Oehri, Noah

Geneva : The Graduate Institute, Global Migration Centre, 2017 . - 78 p.

Global Migration Research Paper ; No. 18

Abstract: The tradition of sanctuary, the Church offering a safe haven for those forced to migrate, has been reinvigorated in the early 1980s in light of the Central American refugee crisis. The Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas was one of the key actors in support and defence of Guatemalan refugees who fled the genocidal violence in the last years of civil war. When the Mexican government decided to relocate the refugee camps from Chiapas to the Yucatan peninsula, the refugees and the Diocese mobilized against the resettlement, scrutinizing and challenging Mexico's asylum policy. Situated at the nexus of theology and forced migration, Solidarity and Sanctuary seeks to historicize the 1984-85 relocation as a watershed moment for the Guatemalan exile in Mexico. Based on archival research in Mexico and Geneva, this thesis examines how the governmental and ecclesiastical discourses influenced the controversy surrounding the resettlement of the refugees. Moreover, it analyzes how these discourses were both shaping and being shaped by the refugees' standpoint. In doing so, this thesis challenges both the prevalent narrative portraying the refugees as an embodiment of victimhood and – as a result thereof – their marginalization in the history of forced migration.


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 Record created 2017-02-24, last modified 2017-02-24


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