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Emotions and emotional reflexivity in undocumented migrant youth activism - 9 May 2022

Please note that this event has passed.

To be a part of this online event, please email Billy Holzberg to receive the link.

Emotions play a significant role in drawing people into activism and in defining activist experiences. However, while research has examined the centring of migrant voices and leadership in migrant rights struggles, consideration of how emotions are engaged with in ways that facilitate and challenge migrants in sustaining their activism has been more limited.

In this talk, Dr Ala Sirriyeh will explore how undocumented migrant young people in California engaged with emotions during their activism. She will examine how emotional well-being was enhanced and strained, and how this impacted on their involvement in activism. Participation in the movement was enabled through the pursuit of expansive, creative, and dynamic practices of activism. These addressed limitations within dominant characterisations of ‘ideal’ activists, while adapting to shifting emotional needs and circumstances. Activists’ cultivation of storytelling spaces, cultures and practices supported and enhanced their capacity for engaging in emotional reflexivity. While not preventing burnout, and the structural oppressions and violence driving this, practices of emotional reflexivity enabled young people to carve out these creative modes of activism and to configure practices of care within the movement.


Dr Ala Sirriyeh is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Lancaster University. Her research and teaching specialisms in migration, refugees, young people, and activism centre on questions of inequality, political power, and social justice. She is the author of the Politics of Compassion (Bristol University Press, 2018) and Inhabiting Borders Routes Home (Routledge, 2013).

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