Performing and Counter-performing Borders: Feminist Stories of Migrant Rights Activism in the United Kingdom

PhD Thesis

Mukaka, A. 2021. Performing and Counter-performing Borders: Feminist Stories of Migrant Rights Activism in the United Kingdom. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Social Sciences
AuthorsMukaka, A.
TypePhD Thesis

This thesis examines the performance and performativity of migrant rights activism resisting and challenging the state bordering practices in the UK and providing a grid through which we can comprehend the multi-various migrant solidarities and struggles across the UK. The study presents an array of female voices, rising out of the current migrant rights movement. These include: a) nine women, whose journeys to becoming committed activists at the forefront of the movement are examined; b) an evaluation of the performances of Nine Lives Theatre and how it challenges conformity to dominant political scripts and c) the symbolic performances of three significant acts of resistance: Hope Space, the Yarl’s Wood demonstrations and the Refugees Welcome march. By exploring this chorus of narratives, the research enquires into the emergent interventions and developments of activism, and asks what materials, physical as well as symbolic, can be drawn upon in the ongoing task of un-scribing the state’s border markers. Situated within the feminist anti-bordering research tradition, the study combines narrative and performance-based methodological approaches and tells a story about multiple articulations of migrant dissent, whilst capturing more fully the dynamic quality of the struggle. The findings of this study point to a complexity of contingent and predisposed practices of state bordering in the asylum system and beyond. As borders are not static, so the migrant rights struggle is responsively fluid to counter them. Through narrative means and performance analysis of individuals and groups in the movement, this thesis seeks to articulate the necessity of counter-performance for sustained activism.

PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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Publication dates
Online11 May 2021
Publication process dates
SubmittedDec 2020
Deposited11 May 2021
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
File access level: Anyone

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