Project Description: Context and Aims of the Volume
From the massive immigrant marches in the United States in 2006 under the banner of “A Day Without Immigrants” to the groundswell of immigrant resistance movements across the globe, immigrant protests have garnered considerable visibility in the last decade. Shared through globalized media technologies, immigrant protests, counter-hegemonic acts of dissent, and practices of resistance play an increasingly significant role in exposing the local violences and exploitations experienced by migrant populations. Immigrant Protest will be the first volume to explore the rise of immigrant protest in a global context. With a specific focus on the centrality of aesthetics to migrant resistance movements, it will examine dissent, resistance, and revolt against the conditions and social attitudes faced by regular and irregular migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and other unwanted and “illegal” persons, within a range of national and regional border-zones. Immigrant Protest showcases work by a group of international scholars, visual and performance artists and activists. It offers a rich and exciting series of accounts and analyses of protests and protest materials, and examines the critical relationship between visibility, power, and representation, an arena that is under-represented and under-explored in migration studies.
The chapters in Immigrant Protest variously document and examine protest in a range of mediums and theoretical dimensions, towards a shared goal of reimagining foreignness beyond the xenophobic logic of negativity, inadequacy, and deficiency. Within this framework, the individual contributions address immigrant protest in everyday, local, and wider national and global contexts. Employing a variety of feminist, transnational and postcolonial methodologies, they explore forms of social, political, and aesthetic engagements in migrant politics. They examine, in different contexts and in a diverse range of mediums, immigrant experience and in particular, but not exclusively, state violence, injustice, racialized and gendered oppression, and logics of exclusion and othering. We have selected essays and visual art projects which discuss political engagements by refugees and non-status migrants as well as less obvious instances of protest such as expressed through small acts of resistance in everyday life, political art, or pedagogical practices. Our aim in this regard is also to open up the question of what counts as protest, and to think about the significance of local and informal practices in challenging oppressive forms of governance. Indeed, one of the central aims of the book is to document resistant perspectives which are often unheard or are culturally illegible.
One of the distinguishing contributions of Immigrant Protest is that it opens up a dialogue between a diverse range of scholars and artists, and tracks the important relation between theoretically orientated work and art activist practices. Indeed, two of the chapters involve a scholar activist in dialogue with art-activists. Theoretically, this collection of interdisciplinary essays situates itself at the intersection of migration studies, transnational studies and visual studies. Immigrant Protest takes theoretical inspiration from scholarship on political aesthetics, such as Jacques Rancière’s The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (2004), which underscores the importance of representational practices within movements for social justice. The collection aligns itself conceptually with and builds on an interdisciplinary body of writing, bringing together social sciences literature on globalism and migration and arts orientated scholarship on protest and resistance. For example, Dimitris Papadopoulos, Niamh Stephenson, Vassilis Tsianos’s Escape Routes: Control and Subversion in the Twenty-first Century (2008), the art-activist collection, Notes from Nowhere, We are Everywhere: the Irresistible Rise of Global Anticapitalism (2008), Stanley Aronowitz, Heather Gautney’s (eds.) Implicating Empire: Globalization and Resistance in the 21st Century World Order (2003), Steve Cohen, Beth Humphries, Ed Mynott’s (eds.) From Immigration Controls to Welfare Controls (2002), Christian Hundertmark’s The Art of Rebellion 2: World of Urban Art Activism (2006), Guillermo Gomez-Pena’s Ethno-Techno: Writings on Performance, Activism, and Pedagogy (2005), Chandra Mohanty’s Feminism without Borders (2003), Zygmunt Bauman’s Wasted Lives: Modernity and Its Outcasts (2004), and Ella Shohat’s Talking Visions (1998). The authors variously employ these and other cutting edge texts of social and cultural theory, gender studies, and visual, literary, and cinematic analysis to engage issues of widespread relevance: migration and globalism, the rise of new nationalisms, increased surveillance, new forms of anti-immigrant activism, and recent oppositional art that exposes the hypocritical construction of the discourses of globalization and mobility. Through this interdisciplinary approach, Immigrant Protest develops a comparative, non-nationalistic approach to immigrant protest, foregrounding the aesthetic dimensions of protest and the affective consequences of social inequalities and human displacement. The case studies demonstrate the importance of breaking the silence which often accompanies immigrant experiences and, in doing so, offer counter-narratives to anti-immigrant actions and politics on a global scale.