How Migrant Movements Contributed to New Forms of Direct Democracy
This chapter analyzes the social marginalization associated with the redrawing of borders and the integration of labor markets and economies in the Balkan states of former Yugoslavia. It proceeds in three movements, each focused on a different moment of migrant organizing. First, it outlines the formation of Slovenia's citizenship since independence from Yugoslavia, with a special focus on what came to be known as the erasure (izbris). During a period of strong nationalist sentiment across Yugoslavia, Slovenia required non-Slovene residents to apply for citizenship in the new state, while ethnic Slovenes gained citizenship automatically. More than one percent of the population—mostly unskilled laborers from other republics—was stripped of the right to reside in Slovenia, becoming illegal immigrants overnight in a territory they had long called home. The chapter then turns to the organizing of migrant laborers by Invisible Workers of the World (IWW), an activist collective from Slovenia. Initiated to address miserable living conditions in workers dormitories, the IWW campaign evolved to confront the role of borders and migration status in the exploitation of workers. Finally, it considers activist organizing against official responses to the 2008 economic crisis in Slovenia. Linking their struggle against austerity in Slovenia to the other global uprisings of 2011—including the Arab Spring, the Spanish indignados, and the North American Occupy movement—activists began a protest encampment in front of the Slovene Stock Exchange.
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