Sanctuary practices in scandinavian transnational cities: The case of public libraries

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift


The article explores sanctuary practices within public institutions by examining instances where public libraries in Denmark (Copenhagen), Norway (Oslo) and Sweden (Malmo and Stockholm) open up their services for persons who lack residence permits on state territory (so-called irregular migrants). Public libraries are understood to be protected public spheres where the right to information and the freedom of expression are safeguarded. Such spaces, where rights are provided, as Hannah Arendt famously pointed out in her reflections over statelessness, are primarily open to citizens. Hence, when public libraries offer their services to irregularized migrants, this is a demonstration of how public institutions representing the sovereign may engage in contestations of deportation regimes produced by the sovereign. Such enactments of sanctuary, or acts of citizenship in the city, open up new meanings of Arendts notion of ''the right to have rights''. Through an in-depth case study in Malmo , Sweden, this article suggests that a new role is emerging for municipal institutions as providers of transnational rights decoupled from any territorial basis. Rather than being linked to nationhood, the institutional role in democracies may be constitutive of rights in local contexts, in this case the protected right to access library services. An equally progressive development can be found in Norway; however, this is not the case in Denmark which could be understood as a reflection of Denmarks more restrictive approach to immigration in general.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Linköping University

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap
  • Internationell Migration och Etniska Relationer (IMER)


Sidor (från-till)142-158
Antal sidor17
TidskriftJournal of Human Rights Practice
Utgåva nummer1
StatusPublished - 2018 feb 1
Peer review utfördJa