Clandestine activists : human rights activism for undocumented migrants : (a case study of a campaign of domestic workers in the Netherlands)
AuthorLamchek, Jayson Sara
The emergence in the Netherlands of a campaign for recognition and rights of domestic workers, mostly undocumented migrants, is a highly unlikely event. Among other things, the Netherlands is not a party to the Convention on Migrant Workers and it has an aggressive policy against irregular migration centered on the denial of most social rights to undocumented migrants. The campaign of domestic workers is a window into pro-undocumented migrants’ human rights (UMHR) activism in a harsh political environment. This paper looks at the opportunities and constraints of pro-UMHR activism in the Netherlands and the strategies that activists can and do adopt to overcome constraints and create opportunities, as demonstrated in the campaign of domestic workers. It advances the view that deprived of a ‘hegemonic’ language, pro-UMHR activists will likely engage in processes of argumentation/dialogue/persuasion in which an explicit normative language of human rights for undocumented migrants is largely avoided. A key finding is that activists in the campaign of domestic workers are constrained to conceal instead of announce their motivation which is the regularization of undocumented status. The paper challenges some established conceptions of human right activism’s relationship to human rights norms in the standard social constructivist account.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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