Refugees and migrant activists who do not network and mobilise with(in) NGOs
Piotr Goldstein (Zentrum für Osteuropa- und internationale Studien (ZOiS))
Paper short abstract:
Some migrants and refugees decide to act in their new local environments without seeking assistance of aid workers or NGOs. Through small or grand 'acts of citizenship' (Isin 2008) they constitute themselves as active(ist) citizens. This paper explores such endeavours.
Paper long abstract:
Migrant and refugee activism is typically assessed in the context of the engagement of migrants/refugees in their own-group advocacy and/or promotion of culture. This paper instead focuses on situations when migrants (including refugees) are involved in activism for non-migrant causes. In such initiatives/groups run by migrants, the origin of members is not necessarily hidden but neither is it highlighted or considered relevant. Thus, it is only through ethnography that one can realise that Polish is lingua franca at many Vegan Picnics in Manchester or understand who is quietly cleaning neighbourhoods in a Serbian city. Still, since these initiatives are not concerned with migrant issues but with those relevant to the entire local community, it is unlikely for them to be looked upon in studies and discussions concerned with 'migrant activism' or migrant-majority relations. Using examples from ethnographic work in Novi Sad, Serbia and Manchester, UK, the proposed paper offers to explore how migrants perform their citizenship without engaging with/in NGOs, charities, movements and other organised (majority) activism. Why do they engage in, or even initiate, endeavours spreading beyond the interests of their own community? What is the role of such engagement for their status among the host society? How dramatically do opportunities to engage vary between different migrant groups? Finally, does studying this activism allow us a better understanding of refugees and migrants and of migrant-majority relations?
Refugees and Migrants Network and Mobilise with Activists and NGO workers