Asylum Seekers, the Church and Finnish Society: Understanding the Situation Through Hannah Arendt’s Concept of “The Right to Have Rights”

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Ilona Silvola
Publisher: Science and Research Centre Koper, Scientific Publishing House Annales
Place: Koper, Slovenia
Publication year: 2018
Journal: Poligrafi
Volume number: 23
Issue number: 91/92
Start page: 185
End page: 205
eISSN: 2232-2833


In 2015, 32,000 asylum seekers arrived in Finland. Since then, Finnish government has tightened up the legislation of international protection. In addition,
Finnish Migration Service has changed its own practices, which has made even family reunions, among others, more difficult. Especially since 2015, several parishes
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland have started to work with asylum
seekers, and some of them have offered church sanctuary. Through ethnography
and reading of Hannah Arendt, the article provides a deepened understanding of
the situation of asylum seekers in Finland and the work that the Lutheran Church
does with asylum seekers. The article shows how Arendt’s phrase “the right to
have rights” and her “theory of action” can provide a tool for understanding the
situation of asylum seekers in Finland. Arendt's discourse can provide a way of
understanding the (potential) role of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
in promoting the human rights of asylum seekers in Finnish society. The article
shows that sanctuary offered by the church can be understood as a way of providing the asylum seekers with a way to enter an alternative “space of appearance”
where their voice can be heard. This is due to the role of the Lutheran Church as
an established institution in Finnish society.


Asylum, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Finland, human rights

Last updated on 2020-20-01 at 03:50