Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Asylum-Seeking, Migration, and Church

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Asylum-Seeking, Migration, and Church

Article excerpt

Asylum-Seeking, Migration, and Church. By Susanna Snyder. (Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2012, Pp. 256. $31.46.)

Susanna Snyder's book, Asylum-Seeking, Migration, and Church, is a truly valuable contribution to the growing literature on migration, religion, and the church. She situates the book within the field of practical theology, yet brings its concerns into critical conversation with Christian scriptural and theological traditions. The book focuses on asylum seekers in Great Britain who find themselves in similar forms of liminality to that of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Thus, the author begins her research by closely exploring the living conditions of most asylees whose lives are in limbo as they wait to learn the results of their appeal for asylum.

As is the case in other immigrant receiving countries, the British state has adopted increasingly harsh policies towards its refugee population, approving only a small percentage for permanent residency. As asylees await the outcome of their petitions, they receive very minimal income support and inadequate housing accommodations. Women's asylum petitions are most frequently rejected because violence against women is more often in the "private sphere" while international conventions on refugees focus on acts of violence within the public sphere. Instead, forced marriages, FGM, and honor killings are simply classified as "cultural differences," that do not rise to the levels of human rights violations. Snyder examines the wide variety of humanitarian efforts undertaken by churches in response to the growing presence of refugees, recognizing that religious institutions are often the initial connecting points as refugees resettle. Yet, she reminds us that humanitarianism is "deeply ambiguous." Churches should remember "that fulfilling immigrants' needs can be very different from helping them flourish, which also involves intangible qualities of love and belonging, dignity and respect and ultimate meaning" (83).

One of the greatest of Snyder's contributions is her attention to the reality that increased global migration has consistently unleashed a backlash among the receiving country's settled population. She provides her readers with an extensive review of the literature examining the triggers of backlash against immigrants, which she identifies as the dynamics of fear. Immigrants personify all the threats to stability brought on by globalization and its concomitant ethnic and religious hybridity. …

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