Critical scholarship on “the promise-of-the-political” thesis customarily understands undocumented migrant struggles (UMS) as being politically disruptive. However, the question of what gets disrupted, how, by whom, and to what effect tends to be ignored. Building on insights from the empirical literature on UMS and ethnographic research of the “Solidarity March With and Without Papers”, this paper argues that three conditions need to be in place for UMS to be disruptive. First, undocumented activists need to craft collective intentions to challenge the institutional order in and through joint action. Second, protest acts need to effectively interrupt everyday routines symbolising the status quo and instigate replication. Third, UMS need to unsettle and force a response from the order in ways that defy existing institutional logics. These findings are translated into a research agenda that proposes to investigate the relative importance of collective intentionality, inaugural performativity and institutional receptivity for UMS.

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Department of Public Administration and Sociology (DPAS)