Global Journal of Peace Research and Praxis

Creating Zones of Peace for Undocumented Residents during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Civil Society Efforts in North Carolina

Zulfiya Tursunova, Heide Castañeda, David Fraccaro, Jennifer Marquez-Trejo


This paper examines the role of civil society in creating spaces of belonging (“zones of peace”) and support for undocumented residents in North Carolina, a relatively new destination for these migrant communities. Nonprofit organizations and faith-based institutions have created programs, practices, and places that create a sense of belonging and foster community peacebuilding. However, this is conceptualized and put into practice in unique and varied ways. In addition to offering traditional sanctuary spaces, they have also formed creative solutions to address systemic racism in policing and detention practices. The efforts described here work together to provide a strong local network of protection and resources for vulnerable populations, a network that was sustained and continued to function even during the COVID-19 pandemic. These cases illustrate how innovation exists in the fight against injustices as each group produces spaces and forms of advocacy that can act synergistically with one another for the protection of all people, regardless of their status. They help us to understand peacebuilding and agency, and how spaces, place, and agency can be re-theorized. We argue also for the central place of storytelling, i.e., a strategic peacebuilding tool to bridge the gap between newcomers and existing communities to create a sense of inclusion and belonging, construct shared meaning, educate, and share knowledge, and exercise agency, all of which are critical in transforming spaces and places in establishing zones and cultures of peace.


sanctuary, peacebuilding, zones of peace, policing, undocumented, community advocacy, refugees, immigrants, civil society, COVID-19, pandemic, storytelling, belonging, North Carolina

Full Text:


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.