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BISHOP Sarah C.

Undocumented Storytellers. Narrating the Immigrant Rights Movement

Oxford University Press, 2019, 240 p., 35 euros.

Undocumented Storytellers offers a critical exploration of the ways undocumented immigrant activists harness the power of storytelling to mitigate the fear and uncertainty of life without legal status and to advocate for immigration reform. Sarah C. Bishop chronicles the ways young people uncover their lack of legal status experientially — through interactions with parents, in attempts to pursue rites of passage reserved for citizens, and as audiences of political and popular media. She provides both theoretical and pragmatic contextualization as activist narrators recount the experiences that influenced their decisions to cultivate public voices. Bishop draws from a mixed methodology of in-depth interviews with undocumented immigrants from eighteen unique nations of origin, critical-rhetorical ethnographies of immigrant rights events and protests, and narrative analysis of immigrant-produced digital media to interrogate the power and limitations of narrative activism. Autobiographical immigrant storytelling refutes mainstream discourse on immigration and reveals the determination of individuals who elsewhere have been vilified by stereotype and presupposition. Offering an unparalleled view into the ways immigrants’ stories appear online, Bishop illuminates digital narrative strategies by detailing how undocumented storytellers reframe their messages when stories have unintended consequences. The resulting work provides broad insights into the role of strategic framing and autobiographical story-sharing in advocacy and social movements.

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