Research

Sharon has been involved in numerous research projects since 2001, and she is trained in both qualitative and quantitative methods. Her works to date reflect her intellectual and personal interests in understanding how marginalized social groups—especially foreign workers, immigrants, and refugees—engage in collective action to challenge hegemonic power and create new kinds of political spaces. Below is a description of her ongoing and completed studies.

MIGRANT TRANSNATIONALISM AND DIASPORA POLITICS

Project 1: A Tale of Two Activisms: The Relationship Between Migrants’ Rights and Diaspora Mobilizations (2016-present)

The central research question of this project asks: How is the collective claims-making of migrants and refugees to achieve economic, political, social rights from their host state connected to their participation in movements for homeland democratization? Sharon is currently conducting interviews with Filipino activists and gathering archival data. Preliminary findings suggest that migrants’ rights activism and diaspora mobilization are inextricably linked through movement abeyance structures and integrative processes. First, in times of ebb in homeland conflict, activists turn to the local concerns of the migrant community to sustain oppositional consciousness. Second, through their involvement in diaspora politics, migrants and refugees develop associational life, acquire knowledge of the diverse problems of the communities where they are embedded, and learn the ropes of domestic public policymaking. This study contributes to the debate on transnationalism and assimilation in migration studies, which has recently moved from contradiction to synergy.

Project 2: Revolution From Afar: Mobilizations for Regime Change and the Making of the Filipino Diaspora in the United States and the Netherlands, 1965-1992 (2012-2016)

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The Coalition Against the Marcos Dictatorship leads a march through downtown Washington D.C. in 1982 to protest U.S. support for Marcos. (Photo credit: Pinoy News Magazine)

Sharon’s dissertation explains the conditions and mechanisms through which migrants and exiles become involved in political struggles in their homelands. While much is known about why migrants maintain homeland ties, information on how they become engaged in organizations involved in political struggles remains scant. Through a comparative case study of homeland-directed activism among Filipinos in the U.S. and the Netherlands from the period of authoritarian rule (1965-1986) to the early years of democratic transition (1986-1992) in the Philippines, the project analyzed how political structures in both the host and home societies, resources in the migrant communities, and formation of oppositional consciousness interact and influence mobilization. Sharon gathered data from 2012 to 2014 in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Den Haag, Leiden, Nijmegen, Tilburg, and Utrecht), the Philippines (Manila), and the U.S. (Los Angeles, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle), collecting over 1,000 pages of archival data in Dutch, English, and Filipino and 53 in-depth interviews.

The research imports a novel theoretical framework from the social movements literature into diaspora and transnationalism studies that benefits both fields. Her dissertation contributes to social movements by introducing the complexity of considering home and host country conditions, and to diaspora and transnationalism by identifying multiple factors and processes at various levels—including individual socialization, social linkages, and political environment. By comparing the political organizing of a single migrant group in traditional and nontraditional countries of destination (U.S. and Netherlands respectively) at different time periods, the study assesses the impact of national and historical contexts on mobilization outcomes.

PUBLIC DISCOURSE ON IMMIGRATION

Sharon conducted a study on the news framing of immigration in two policy debates—on the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437) in 2006 and on the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act or Arizona Senate Bill (S.B.) 1070 in 2010—for her MA thesis. She analyzed 490 news articles of The New York Times and USA Today. She received the University of Pittsburgh Norman P. Hummon Memorial Award for Outstanding Research for her study and published an article in Mass Communication and SocietyHer findings show that through the use of multiple news frames (“Nation of Immigrants,” “Immigrant Takeover,” “Cheap Labor” etc.), the media create diametrically opposed representations of immigration and contemporary immigrants but at the same time normalize dominant ways of thinking and talking about immigration that sustain and consolidate power relationships.

MULTILATERAL PROCESSES AND TRANSNATIONAL PROTESTS

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Sharon interviewed second-generation Filipinos who were part of the anarchist black block during the G20 summit protests in Pittsburgh, September 24-25, 2009.

As University Researcher at the Third World Studies Center of the University of the Philippines-Diliman from 2001-2008, Sharon studied the political economy of negotiations in the World Trade Organization, mobilizations in Southeast Asia against free trade, Philippine civil society discourse on globalization, and North-South divide in the campaign against land mines and illicit small arms trade. In these projects, Sharon has undertaken data-gathering fieldwork in Cambodia, Thailand, and Kenya. Sharon also possesses rich experience in cross-national collaborative research, as she was part of a five-country team of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development Research on “Global Civil Society Movements: Dynamics in International Campaigns and National Implementation.”

At Pitt, Sharon also conducted participant-observation of  the protests against the 2009 G20 Summit in Pittsburgh. She collaborated with Dr. Jane Walsh of Clarion University of Pennsylvania in writing a paper on the dynamics of local-global movement framing. Sharon also worked as a graduate student researcher for Melanie Hughes on her project on women’s international nongovernmental organizations (WINGOs), funded by the National Science Foundation. In this project, they collected and analyzed network data and built a dataset of WINGOs from 1953 to 2008.

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