Service providers or transnational campaigners?: Aacomparative study between the Colombian and Bolivian migrant associations in the UK

Adriana Jimenez, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Adriana Castro Ayala, International Organisation for Migration

Latin Americans are one of the fastest growing communities in the UK and one that is largely overlooked by migration scholars. Latin American communities in the UK, however, have started organising and creating a wide-range of associations that provide services to the community and/or maintain ties with their countries of origin. What accounts for the creation of migrant organisations in the British context? How do migrant organisations differ among Latin American communities? Our inquiry into these questions addresses how the type of organisational activities of migrant communities are determined by both causes related to the country of origin โ€“ geographic origin, culture and cause of migration โ€“ and the way migrant communities have settled in the country of reception โ€“ context of reception, level of cohesion within the community and expectation of return. As we show through a comparative analysis of the Colombian and Bolivian communities in the UK, migrant communities such as the case of Colombians, who mainly come from urban origins, have experienced a violent conflict back home and find themselves in a disadvantaged status in Britain tend to create migrant organisations that provide community services as well as get involved in political activities (i.e. campaign for amnesties in the country of reception or influence political developments at home). The more recently-arrived Bolivian community in the UK, on the other hand, whose members come from mainly rural areas and experience high levels of community division tend to create hometown associations in order to recreate cultural and social experiences from their region of origin and along ethnic lines as well as to maintain strong ties with the country of origin.

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Presented in Session 14: Transnational Communities and Diaspora Networks