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The camp of God: reimagining pilgrimage as migrancy in Augustine’s City of God 1

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Augustine, Agamben, migrants, refugees, pilgrimage, exile

Abstract (summary)

Following the Sack of Rome in 410 CE, African Christians like Augustine welcomed migrants pouring onto their shores from Italy. This was part of a trend of catastrophic human displacement that anticipated—albeit in an inverted manner—the Mediterranean migrant crisis of the twenty-first century. It was in this context that Augustine wrote, in his City of God, of a civitas made up of peregrini—not merely ‘pilgrims,’ but ‘migrants’ or ‘refugees.’ The vision of community corresponding to Augustine’s sense of peregrinatio was thus not the city, but the camp: the civitas that plays host to the migrant. As Agamben has reminded us, the prevalence of camps, in addition to embodying violence against the encamped, tells us something about the regime of law conditioning even those who supposedly live ‘outside the walls.’ In light of Agamben’s insight, this article makes the case that Augustine’s political theology of peregrinatio and civitas is best understood in terms of migrancy and the refugee camp.

Publication Information

Hannan, Sean. "The Camp of God: Reimagining Pilgrimage as Migrancy in Augustine’s City of God 1," Political Theology 22, no. 1 (2021), 10-26.


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Article Post-Print



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