In recent years, immigrants and ethnic minorities in Europe and the United States have been mobilizing to protest the passing of restrictive citizenship and migration legislation, the rise of anti-immigrant and xenophobic attitudes, and the deterioration of their rights and working conditions. Hence, a growing literature in the fields of citizenship and migration, as well as social movement studies has been examining why and how immigrant activists mobilize in hostile environments and why and how they create alliances with some supporters rather than others. While most scholarship highlights that pro-immigrant groups, and especially civil society organizations, trade unions and radical left organizations can be pivotal in supporting the efforts of immigrants and ethnic minorities to mobilize for greater rights and recognition, there remain lacunae in our knowledge of the role of these actors in obstructing immigrants’ political claims. Additionally, as hostilities towards immigrants have been intensifying in recent years, cities have become highly politicized arenas for immigration and integration issues and the emergence of conflicts and alliances among ‘old’ and ‘new’ actors can me observed. Therefore, further research is needed to investigate why and how important variations in patterns of political participation and grassroots mobilizations occur and particularly how they are shaped by coalitions and conflicts among multiple local actors within the same national context.
Based on extensive fieldwork conducted in Italy between 2013 and 2014 and on an in-depth analysis of discourses and practices of local actors in four cities in two regions, this presentation addresses the following questions: Why and how do immigrant activists mobilize in hostile environments? Why and how do they create alliances with some allies rather than others? What explain variations in forms of political participation and grassroots mobilizations at the local level? Using social movement theory to extend the concept of political opportunity structure to migration theories, this study examines how both institutional and non-institutional actors, including immigrant activists, get involved and compete in the local arena over immigration and integration issues, and assesses the mechanisms by which both conventional and non-conventional forms of participation are made possible, or obstructed, by the interaction of these actors. The analysis shows that coalitions, conflicts and racialization processes among pro-immigrant groups and immigrant activists greatly affect participation. In particular, ideological and political divides, combined with different ‘framing’ of the working and living conditions of immigrants and ethnic minorities in the receiving society by pro- immigrant groups, play a crucial role in shaping the kind of alliances and coalitions that are made as well as the channels of participation available to immigrant activists. Finally, focusing on the discourses and practices of immigrant activists, the study shows why they mobilize and why they create alliances with some local actors rather than others. It explains, moreover, their role in transforming local dynamics, especially by challenging their allies’ tendency to racialize them and speak on their behalf.
The event is free and open to the public.
L'évènement est gratuit et ouvert à tous. La présentation sera en anglais et sera suivie d'une période de questions bilingue.