Migration, Faith, and Action: Shifting the Discourse

Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 14:30 to Friday, May 9, 2014 - 14:30

In early May 2014, "Migration, Faith, and Action: Shifting the Discourse" an interdisciplinary conference took place. Sponsored by Las Casas Institute, The Oxford research Centre for The Humanities (TORCH) and Campion Hall, the conference offered an opportunity to reflect on the role that Faith and Faith-based organizations have on shifting the discourse regarding migration.

The conference sought to identify dominant discourses regarding migration, as well as to explore ways in which faith can contribute to shift negative perceptions in this matter.  Also, the conference highlighted the contributions and challenges of faith-based organizations in supporting migrants throughout the world.  The conference gathered scholars from the UK, Europe, the U.S. who exchanged ideas and experiences on faith and migration. One of the key note speakers was Norma Romero, coordinator of "Las Patronas" a humanitarian group that aids Central American migrants passing through Mexico on their way to the United States. "Las Patronas" were the winner of the Human Rights National Award in Mexico in 2013.

In her intervention, Norma stated, "at some point we understood that Jesus is not dead, He is alive in the most vulnerable, like the migrants...In ministering to migrants we have found a vocation, a special call from God". Her participation was preceded by a video, which illustrated part of their work and commitment to work for most vulnerable. Norma and 18 other women who belong to the group "Las Patronas" have become one of the flagship groups working for Human Rights of migrants in transit through Mexico.

Rev'd Alejandro Olayo-Mendez, SJ (DPhil in International Development), Robert W. Heimburger (DPhil in Theology and Sir Halley Stewart Scholar at Las Casas Institute), Paul J. Kellner (DPhil in International Development), and Lena Wettach (DPhil in Social and Cultural Anthropology) hosted the event. Some of the other key note speakers included Prof. Dr Michael Nausner (Reutlingen School of Theology, Germany), Rev'd Dr James Hanvey, SJ (Master of Campion Hall, University of Oxford), Prof. Jonathan Burnside (University of Bristol), Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (University of Oxford), Dr Musharraf Hussain OBE (Karimia Institute, Nottingham), and Kavni Chag (MPhil, University of Oxford).