My first book project “Contentious Migrants: How Protests Create a Diaspora” (under contract with University of Chicago Press) reveals the elements and processes that work together to form a diaspora. Diasporas do not simply emerge from migration and dispersal; they need to be created within social and political contexts. During conflicts in migrants’ homelands and/or countries of settlement, cleavages in the social order become visible. When migrants then make claims and demands in public, they deliberately form and articulate identities derived from loyalty and continued belonging to homeland, solidarity with co-nationals/-ethnics, shared memory and history, and myth of return. In these deliberations and actions, a diaspora is formed. I use the case of Filipino activism in the U.S. and the Netherlands in the antidictatorship movement (1965-1986), the movement for migrants’ rights (1972-1992), and the movement to construct a collective memory on the Marcos regime (2016-2020) to argue that diasporas are discursive and strategic constructions.
I gathered data for the book in the Netherlands, the Philippines, and the U.S. from 2009-2019. My primary data sources consist of more than 3,000 pages of rare written records from social movement organizations, unpublished and published personal accounts of activists, government documents, news accounts in ethnic and mainstream press, field notes from online and offline participant observation, and blogs and posts in social media forums. I have also conducted 97 in-depth semi-structured interviews with movement participants and their children as well as movement allies and supporters
The book’s comparative approach offers a fresh perspective in the analysis of Filipino diaspora, as it will be the first to analyze the similarities and differences in transnational activism of Filipinos in North America and Western Europe.