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Cities of refuge: Rights, culture and the creation of cosmopolitan cityzenship

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Abstract

In seeking to understand contemporary renegotiations of sovereignty, Cities of Refuge form an important inroad. The term designates those cities that explicitly go beyond the national standard in refugee welcome and integration and are thus actively involved in the definition and renegotiation of refugee rights, and of human rights in general. In doing so, Cities of Refuge engage in practices of bordering, either creating new borders or breaking down existing ones. This results in a localized interplay between law, culture and human rights which amounts to the creation of a “cityzenship” in which rights and obligations are defined inclusively, with the idea that all present in the city should be treated equally. Such efforts are not only located in the realm of politics but also, crucially, in the cultural domain. On the basis of cases from, mostly, Europe this article sets out how these processes of strengthening local cultures of welcome and setting out related rights lead to strengthening of local sovereignty but, simultaneously, contribute to the realization of cosmopolitan, human rights.

Keywords

  • Human rights
  • Integration
  • Refuge