The sanctuary movement in the United States began in the 1980s in response to growing numbers of Central American refugees seeking political asylum. While the media portray male clerics as the leaders of this religious-based political movement, women outnumber men at all levels of organization. Using twenty-nine in-depth interviews with women involved in eight local sanctuary sites, Robin Lorentzen explores the workings of the sanctuary movement; the reasons for their commitment to this illegal activity; the relationship between their activism, liberation theology, and feminism; and the tensions among the women and between women and men in the movement. Lorentzen documents how women primarily white, middle-class housewives and nuns actually produce the movement in religious and community settings, mobilizing family, church, and community resources to reconstruct the refugees' lives. This richly detailed ethnographic study is supported throughout with colorful excerpts from the author's interviews with participants.
The women themselves relate the intense commitment, frenetic preparation, heartrending joy, and exhaustive burnout that constantly accompany their involvement with the refugees, Lorentzen explores the inherent tensions between humanitarian and political impulses within this woman-based movement and describes the challenges faced by various religious and civic communities. Robin Lorentzen teaches Sociology in the Anthropology/Sociology Department at Albertson College of Idaho.
Acknowledgments 1. Introduction Sanctuary as a Women's Movement Sanctuary as a Political Process 2. A Natural History of the Chicago Movement Origins and Development Stages of Involvement 3. Ideological Splits Tucson and Chicago Leaders Local Men and Women Laywomen and Women Religious 4. Patterns and Conflicts in Women's Activities Leadership Outreach Translating Civil Disobedience Travel to Central America Caretaking The Impact of Background on Activism 5. Stages in Activist Women's Lives Humanitarian Path Religious Path Political Path Integration of Paths 6. The Effects of Life Structure Family Conflict and Support Women's Views of Liberation 7. Conclusion Women in Social Movements The Future of Sanctuary Appendix Notes Index