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Wolves in the airport: Jesus’ critique of purity as a challenge to 21st century surveillance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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This article draws on Jesus’ critique of holiness as purity to build a Christian theological challenge to unjust 21st century surveillance. Categorical suspicion is directed against populations deemed to be risky. The Temple of Ezekiel’s prophecy is set alongside the contemporary airport. Using the analogy of the management of the flows of people into and through sterile spaces, it is argued that purity paradigms have a functional equivalent in the 21st century attempt to control a chaotic world through surveillance by social sorting. The importance of scrutinising those with the power to name categories and the dispersal of notions of ‘risky persons’ into broader social imagination form one direction of critique. The church is challenged as to its reinforcing of unjust stereotypes, particularly of Muslims, and the call of compassion to reach over boundaries, without ignoring the existence of actual dangerous people.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-66
JournalPractical Theology
Issue number1
Early online date22 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Surveillance, Islamophobia, Airport, Ezekiel, Purity, Social sorting

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ID: 251413585