Aziz Choudry, “Struggles of migrant and immigrant workers: Reflections on knowledge, power, research, and resistance” [University of Marburg, Germany]


Aziz Choudry, Ph.D., Associate Professor, International Education, Department of Integrated Studies in Education, Faculty of Education, McGill University, Montreal (Quebec), Canada

Invited Lecture at the University of Marburg (18.12.2018, 18-20):

“Struggles of migrant and immigrant workers: Reflections on
knowledge, power, research, and resistance”


Responding to anti-immigration and xenophobic politics over two decades ago, British anti-imperialist and anti-racist thinker Sivanandan (1995) insisted: “it is your economics that creates our politics that make us refugees in your economies”. Today’s migration is rooted in historical, social, economic and political relations. The ravages of colonialism, imperialism (including military intervention), historical institutional labour arrangements, crises and shifts in global capitalism are key to understanding contemporary migration. Meanwhile, migrant and immigrant workers and communities worldwide have long organized against exploitation and oppression. They have often been vital to struggles for change, many of which highlight ways that capital exploits workers through the social relations of race, gender, and class and unjust immigration policies.


My work is grounded in a radical tradition of anti-racist, anti-colonial and anti-imperialist scholarship which refuses to “remain above the fray of political activism and use only disembodied, objectified language and a 'properly' dispassionate professorial demeanor to establish our intellectual credentials” (Thobani, 2002). I argue that in order to understand the contemporary politics of migration, we should engage with the knowledge produced in activism and organizing in which people come together to try to address the roots of the problems they face, build solidarity, and act collectively to confront injustice. What can be learnt from deeper critical engagement with this knowledge? How might university-based researchers learn from activist research that occurs as part of organizing for change? Understanding all knowledge to be political, I argue for politically committed, rigorous research which is in dialogue with, relevant to, and which explicitly serves people’s struggles for immigration justice and against racism and all forms of exploitation.