Creating Human Rights: How Noncitizens Made Sex Persecution Matter to the World

By Lisa S. Alfredson | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
“Use My Name”: Noncitizen Identity,
Decisions, and Mobilization

I remember when my lawyer in 1992 wrote an article and she told me she
is not going to use my name. I said “No. I want you to use my name.” …
And whenever my lawyer tells people, she calls and she says: “I told them to
use your name!”

—Thérèse, refugee claimant, 1995

The importance of ideas and ideology, and their formal and strategic expression by actors attempting to influence the external environment, cannot be understated. McAdam explains: “Mediating between opportunity and action are the people and the… meanings they attach to their situations” (1982:48). It is important to understand why actors act in the way they do, and this means not taking for granted their decisions and the intended course of a campaign. In the following, I explore why and how asylum seekers and supporters got involved in campaigning, even when risks were involved, and with what implications for the internal political culture of the campaign network that coalesced. In so doing I seek more specifically to uncover (1) whether asylum seekers were essentially “forced migrants” without options, dependent on the goodwill of the state or desperate to challenge it, or if indeed they sought options and made rational political decisions to act on them; and (2) what roles asylum seekers played in shaping the ideology, aims, and participation of key supporters, and the larger structure and political culture of the campaign network. This emerges through detailed analysis of asylum seekers’ and supporters’ identity, decision making, and interactions.1

The internal political culture of the campaign network not only shapes its membership and organization, but their core ideology and aims in

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