Political Engagements of Latin American Immigrants in the UK July 2004 – June 2006


This project focused on the political initiatives of a group of migrants recently arrived in the UK from non-commonwealth countries: Latin Americans. Political engagement of new immigrants is a topic which has been overlooked by academic and policy-makers. While attention has been paid, on the one hand, to immigrants as objects of policy and, on the other, to ethnic minorities (i.e. citizens) as casters of votes, little interest has been directed towards factors that might induce new immigrants to mobilize collectively and about how such mobilization is articulated.

In particular, this project sought to increase our understanding of new immigrants’ civic and political agency by exploring and mapping the main forms and content of collective action taken by Latin Americans in the UK to improve their conditions. In researching these migrants’ mobilizations, special attention was paid to the influence exerted on them by the British multicultural set up in terms of opportunity structures, by the migrants’ own background and experience, as well as by their conditions and status. Findings were contrasted with existing studies of immigrant politics that have investigated migrants as object of policies or the voting patterns of ethnic minorities (British Citizens).

Principal Investigator

Davide Però


Economic and Social Research Council (COMPAS Core Funding)








The project used a comprehensively defined ethnographic approach, including participant observation, formal and informal interviewing and life histories, and document analysis. These methods were deployed in a range of different sites and events, and involved various types of informants, including immigrants themselves and British political and civic activists. The project, while following a socio-anthropological approach, had a strong interdisciplinary dimension in terms of topic and disciplinary significance (i.e. migration and ethnic studies, sociology and politics).