From City to Nation of Sanctuary: Examining the Political Geographies of Citizenship

Closing date: 15 February 2016
First Supervisor:  Dr Angharad Closs Stephens (Department of Geography, Swansea University)
Project Description:

The Economic & Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Wales Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) and Swansea University are offering a fully-funded PhD studentship in Human Geography in collaboration with the Welsh Refugee Council.

In response to the crisis of refugees arriving in Europe over the summer of 2015, the Welsh Government held an emergency summit and reiterated its commitment that Wales should play a leading role as a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’. This is an interesting moment given that Wales doesn’t have direct responsibility for UK borders. What might it mean, in practice and in theory, for Wales to declare itself a ‘nation of sanctuary’? What are the theoretical and political imaginaries of sanctuary, national identity and citizenship at work in this context? What are their historical precedents? And how do they relate to political responses to the crisis across the UK and Europe more generally? This PhD studentship offers a unique opportunity for a candidate to examine the political geographies of refugees, asylum seekers and citizenship in Wales, paying attention to Swansea and Cardiff as two declared ‘Cities of Sanctuary’ as well as other emerging groups across Wales that are committed to grassroots initiatives to build a culture of hospitality and welcome to refugees. The project will ask: what difference does an urban, regional or national imaginary of community make to the commitment to hospitality? What difference do different forms of welcome make?  

The successful candidate will be based at Swansea University Geography Department and will work in partnership with the Welsh Refugee Council to develop a theoretically rich and empirically informed project. The focus on Wales is designed to offer an entry point for investigating the different scales, sites and acts of citizenship but candidates need not have any prior knowledge of this particular context. The project is open to be developed in a number of different ways – by drawing on debates in Political Geography, Cultural Geography, Creative Geography, Historical Geography, Urban Geography, International Relations and/or Citizenship Studies, as well as more specific contemporary debates around Affect, Borders, Security, Cities, States, Sovereignty, Resistance and Everyday Life.

More information here:


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