Seminar: Faith Based Action in Migration

16 Feb Seminar: Faith Based Action in Migration

On Mondays throughout Hilary Term, the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture is hosting a series of interdisciplinary conversations which aim to shed new light on the unfolding migration context: ‘In-Migration: Cultural and Theological Dialogues on the 21st Century Movements of Peoples’.

In each session, a speaker or speakers will make a key input on an aspect of migration, to which scholars associated with the Centre will offer a response informed by Christian theological reflection and/or practice, followed by Q&A.  Details of the next seminar are as follows:


Faith Based Action in Migration


Speakers: Viraj Mendis and Shari Brown


Respondent: Dr. Ellie McLaughlin


Monday 20th February, 5-6pm


Regent’s Park College
Pusey Street, Oxford, OX1 2LB


Speaker profiles:

Viraj Mendis came to Britain as a student in 1973, dropping out of university to engage in grassroots political activism, campaigning against deportations, collaboration with apartheid South Africa, Sinhala supremacism in Sri Lanka, and what he saw as British occupation in Ireland.  In 1984, the Home Office initiated deportation proceedings against him as an overstayer.  The then Home Secretary, The Rt Hon. Douglas Hurd, argued that Viraj’s support for Tamils was a ‘cynical attempt’ to avoid deportation.  In December 1986, Viraj took public sanctuary in the Anglican Church of the Ascension in Manchester.  In January 1989, the police broke-in and Viraj was deported to Sri Lanka where he continued his political activity in a year during which thousands of Sinhalese anti-state youth were killed by government forces.  In 1990, the German government allowed Viraj to join his English wife Karen in Germany, from where he has continued his work in support of refugees and against western collaboration with the regimes from which refugees have to flee.

Shari Brown is Project Coordinator of Restore, a Birmingham Churches Together project supporting refugees and asylum seekers. She was initially inspired by refugee support work when volunteering with the Caritas refugee department in Stuttgart, Germany.  Prior to joining Restore in 2002 she worked in Peace Education at the Quaker Peace Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a trustee of Hope Projects in Birmingham (supporting destitute asylum seekers) and of NACCOM, the No Accommodation national network for asylum destitution work. She is also a trustee of Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham (supporting refugee arts) and serves on the steering groups of the West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership and Churches’ Refugee Network.

Eleanor McLaughlin, Research Assistant, holds an MA from the University of Geneva and a DPhil from the University of Oxford. Her doctoral research engaged with the work of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who took part in the resistance against Hitler in Nazi Germany.




For the full list of seminars, click HERE.