Insurgent Communities: How Protests Create a Filipino Diaspora

In this contribution to the interdisciplinary field of migration studies and the sociology of social movements, I explain the dynamic process of diaspora construction through transnational protests. Using the case of Filipinos in the United States and the Netherlands, I argue that diasporas do not materialize simply due to boundary crossing and dispersal. They must be created, and one way of doing this is through activism. Migrants become a diaspora when they develop collective identities—when they reflect on and discuss what gave rise to their grievances, how to frame and where to lodge their demands, what kinds of tactics to pursue, and why certain circumstances are favorable for particular strategies. Since migrants are not homogeneous, the communities become arenas for deliberation and negotiation in times of political and social conflicts. In these dialogues and debates among migrants and public performances for various targets, a diaspora is formed.

Migration alone does not create a diaspora. Insurgent Communities: How Protests Create a Filipino Diaspora argues that a diaspora is constructed in times of contention. During political and social conflicts in the homeland and in their countries of settlement, cleavages in the social order become visible to migrants. When they then make claims and demands in public, they deliberately form and articulate collective identities derived from loyalty and continued belonging to the homeland, solidarity with co-nationals and co-ethnics, shared memory and history, and myth of return. Through this process, the individual merges with the collective.

Insurgent Communities, thus, reveals the elements that work together to form a diaspora—elements that migrants challenge and reconstitute in times of unrest. This book is the first to systematically apply collective identity theory in social movements to diaspora formation. This is also the first monograph to examine the activism of migrants in three movements in different time periods—antidictatorship, migrants rights,’ and collective memory—as opposed to previous studies on diasporas that have only investigated either mobilizations directed to their country of origin or those focused on their country of settlement. In this regard, Insurgent Communities is a pioneering work.