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Cities and Social Movements: Immigrant Rights Activism in the US, France, and the Netherlands, 1970-2015

ISBN: 978-1-118-75066-7
280 pages
December 2016, Wiley-Blackwell
Cities and Social Movements: Immigrant Rights Activism in the US, France, and the Netherlands, 1970-2015 (1118750667) cover image


Through historical and comparative research on the immigrant rights movements of the United States, France and the Netherlands, Cities and Social Movements examines how small resistances against restrictive immigration policies do – or don’t – develop into large and sustained mobilizations.

  • Presents a comprehensive, comparative analysis of immigrant rights politics in three countries over a period of five decades, providing vivid accounts of the processes through which immigrants activists challenged or confirmed the status quo
  • Theorizes movements from the bottom-up, presenting an urban grassroots account in order to identify how movement networks emerge or fall apart
  • Provides a unique contribution by examining how geography is implicated in the evolution of social movements, discovering how and why the networks constituting movements grow by tracing where they develop
  • Demonstrates how efforts to enforce national borders trigger countless resistances and shows how some environments provide the relational opportunities to nurture these small resistances into sustained mobilizations
  • Written to appeal to a broad audience of students, scholars, policy makers, and activists, without sacrificing theoretical rigor
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Table of Contents

 Series Editors’ Preface ix

Acknowledgments x

1 Sparks of Resistance 1

2 Rethinking Movements from the Bottom Up 13

Part I The Birth of Immigrant Rights Activism 37

3 Making Space for Immigrant Rights Activism in Los Angeles 39

4 Radical Entanglements in Paris 54

5 Placing Protest in Amsterdam 71

Part II Urban Landscapes of Control and Contention 89

6 The Laissez ]Faire State: Re ]politicizing Immigrants in Los Angeles 91

7 The Uneven Reach of the State: The Partial Pacification of Paris 116

8 The Cooptative State: The Pacification of Contentious Immigrant Politics in Amsterdam 138

Part III New Geographies of Immigrant Rights Movements 157

9 Los Angeles as a Center of the National Immigrant Rights Movement 161

10 Paris as Head of Splintering Resistances 188

11 Divergent Geographies of Immigrant Rights Contention in the Netherlands 209

12 Conclusion: Sparks into Wildfires 227

Notes 239

References 245

Index 262

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Author Information

Walter Nicholls is Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at the University of California, Irvine. His main areas of research have been the role of cities in social movements and immigration. He has published widely in journals including Transactions of the Institute of British GeographersTheory and SocietyTheoryCulture and SocietyInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and Environment and Planning A. His study of the undocumented youth movement in the United States was published as The DREAMers: How the Undocumented Youth Movement Transformed the Immigrant Rights Debate (Stanford University Press). 

Justus Uitermark is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. His research interests include Urban Studies and Political Sociology. He has published widely in journals including American Sociological Review, Political GeographyProgress in Human GeographySocial Networks and PLoS ONE. His Dynamics of Power in Dutch Integration Politics was published by University of Amsterdam Press. 

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“Nicholls and Uitermark’s book offers a richly textured and insightful analysis of the complex dynamics of immigrant rights movements in Los Angeles, Paris and Amsterdam. Their “bottom up” approach exposes the ways in which immigrant “illegality” is constructed and contested in those three different contexts, each with its own distinctive governmental regime, and reminds us once again that all politics is local.”
Ruth Milkman, Professor of Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center, New York

“What makes social movements by groups usually considered as resourceless possible? Through cross-national comparison and using a historical perspective, aptly bridging sociology and geography, this volume convincingly argues that, notwithstanding more and more exclusive neoliberal policies in global cities, the relational qualities of some places help the incubation of resistance.”
Donatella della Porta, Director of the Centre on Social Movement Studies, Scuola normale superiore di Firenze, Florence

“Bringing diverse people together, cities are not just sites of tension, but also alliances. As Nicholls and Uitermark show in their innovative comparison, public policies and city residents’ relations as neighbors, co-workers and community members can spark movements of resistance and solidarity. As anti-immigrant rhetoric pervades European and American politics, Nicholls and Uitermark’s empirically and theoretically rich analysis could not be more timely.”
Irene Bloemraad, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

“This book is essential reading to understand how immigrant rights struggles persist in the face of growing xenophobia and parochialism. Using an impressive array of sources, Nicholls and Uitermark show how these struggles emerge, use cities as strategic sites, and thrive or fail. In addition to its rich empirical content, Cities and Social Movements is a brilliant reflection on the relationship between space, social movements and cities.”
Mustafa Dikeç, Professor of Urban Studies, Ecole d’Urbanisme de Paris and LATTS, Paris

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