Immigrant Contentious Action

Domains of Contention and the Modern Pre-History of the Pro-Immigrant Social Movement, 1960-1995

Presentation by Professor Irene Bloemraad with comment by Chris Zepeda-Milan

Friday, March 10, 2023

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM (Pacific Time)
In person: Bunche 10383
Zoom Webinar

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Dr. Irene Bloemraad (Sociology, UC Berkeley) presenting “Immigrant Contentious Action: Domains of Contention and the Modern Pre-History of the Pro-Immigrant Social Movement, 1960-1995;” with comment by Chris Zepeda-Millan (Public Policy and Chicana/o and Central American Studies, UCLA) at Bunche 10383


(with Steven Lauterwasser and Kim Voss)
Social movement scholars have paid relatively little attention to the contentious action of immigrants living in the United States, both in their empirical research and their theorizing. Scholars of migration are beginning to provide rich accounts of pro-immigrant contentious action, but they have largely focused on the 21 st  century. To the extent that they trace the roots of contemporary mobilization, there are conflicting accounts over the extent and periodization of immigrant protest in prior decades. We ask: Have social movement scholars not studied immigrant mobilization because, until recently, immigrant protest was minimal compared to other iconic movements? Second, to the extent that immigrants did mobilize, was this largely a phenomenon in the U.S. Southwest, linked to Chicanx and farm labor organizing? We explore the existence and scope of pro-immigrant collective action from 1960 to 1995 using the Dynamics of Contention dataset to develop new, original coding of Immigrant Collective Action events. We distinguish four types of events, which we label diaspora, documentation, access, and exclusionary protest. We find that immigrant protest events were as prevalent and disruptive in this period as collective action in the name of other movements that figure prominently in scholarship and we identify evidence of widespread action by a range of national- origin groups across the country, including the U.S. South. We conclude that the scholarly inattention to immigrant collective action might stem, in part, from scholars’ tendency to study movements once they have become organized and engage in cohesive, consolidated action rather than to consider populations “at risk” for collective action. Sub-field conceptual blind spots might also be at play. For social movement scholars, this lies in inattention to legal status or diasporic protest at a form of collective action, and for migration scholars, a longstanding focus on integration (or assimilation) rather than collective behavior.

Location: Bunche 10383 or via Zoom (register here


Sponsor(s): Center for Study of International Migration

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