Cities of Asylum
In 1993, a group of writers led by Salman Rushdie formed what would become the Cities of Asylum, and governments in several European cities agreed to provide one to two years of support for endangered writers in exile. These Cities of Asylum aimed to protect not only freedom of speech and publication, but also the physical safety of writers.
Today, over 70 Cities of Asylum across the world have adapted this mission to their local contexts to engage and enrich the hosting community. In the US, they lead grassroots efforts to renovate homes, sponsor community-based public art, build artist-designed green spaces, and publish magazines.
City of Asylum Detroit opened its doors in 2020. Since then, they’ve brought feminist Burmese poet Pencilio, queer Nigerian novelist Pwaangulongii Dauod, Haitian photojournalist Dieu-Nalio Chery, and Haitian videographer Mathide Chery Debel to safety in our city, where they are thriving and contributing to Detroit’s cultural life.
Rushdie recently survived a brutal, targeted stabbing at a City of Asylum event, underscoring this mission’s continued relevance as well as its fragility.
–Laura Kraftowitz, Co-Founder & Co-Director, City of Asylum Detroit
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