Beyond the dreamers: Collective identity and subjectivity in the undocumented youth movement

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Based on longitudinal ethnographic research, this article explores what the concepts of collective identity and subjectivity contribute in the case of the undocumented youth movement in Los Angeles. I show that while the collective identity of the Dreamers has been used to organize undocumented youth from different backgrounds and regions into a recognizable collective actor successfully engaged in political action, nowadays the Dreamer identity is a matter of contention among undocumented youth. I show that the basis of subjective sharing and belonging is now less derived from the collective identity of the Dreamer and more from the shared subjectivities of undocumented youths, constituted by embodied experiences of exclusion, stigmatization, and empowerment. I thus argue for a stronger engagement with the concept of subjectivity in social movement research, as it offers a greater understanding of the profound effects of embodied and affective experiences of negative discursive positioning, trauma, emancipation, and healing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-363
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Early online date1 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


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