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From Diaspora Mobilization to Immigrant Resistance: Comparing Syrian and Yemeni Mobilization against Inequality at Home and Abroad

The Politics of Inequality

ISBN: 978-1-83909-363-0, eISBN: 978-1-83909-362-3

Publication date: 19 July 2021


Mobilization by diaspora activists against illiberalism in their country of origin and by immigrants for equality in their country of settlement has received widespread attention in political science and sociology, respectively. However, because extant studies treat these mobilizations as distinct types, little is known about the relationship between diaspora and immigrant mobilization. This chapter addresses this theoretical gap using 167 interviews with Syrian and Yemeni activists in the United States and Britain. The findings demonstrate how Syrian and Yemeni diaspora mobilization in support of the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions facilitated their visibility and voice as immigrants. Syrians built an organizational field with the capacity to contest host-country discrimination and local extremism; Yemenis instituted protests and brokerage that shaped the context of reception for home-country elites and challenged intragroup inequality. At the same time, economic disparities between national groups shaped their capacities to diversify tactics and sustain efforts over time. My chief claim is that diaspora mobilization facilitates immigrant voice and visibility but is mitigated in important ways by group-wise resources. The chapter concludes by emphasizing the importance of voice and visibility among marginalized groups subjected to intersecting repressions.




I am grateful to the participants of the Culture and Politics Workshop in the Department of Sociology at Pennsylvania State University, Louise Cainkar, Fiona Adamson, David Pettinicchio, and the anonymous reviewers for their encouragement and feedback on this chapter. I remain indebted to my respondents for making this research possible. Funding for this research was made possible by the National Science Foundation's Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant 2014–15 (#1433642); the American Institute for Yemeni Studies Pre-Dissertation Fellowship; the University of California, Irvine's Kugelman Citizen Peacebuilding Research Fellowship, the Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies' Research Award, the Center for the Study of Democracy; and the Departments of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and UC Irvine. All research procedures were conducted in accordance with Institutional Review Board–mandated and approved protocols.


Moss, D.M. (2021), "From Diaspora Mobilization to Immigrant Resistance: Comparing Syrian and Yemeni Mobilization against Inequality at Home and Abroad", Pettinicchio, D. (Ed.) The Politics of Inequality (Research in Political Sociology, Vol. 28), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 155-174.



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