Welcoming Acts

Temporality and Affect among Volunteer Humanitarians in the UK and USA

in Migration and Society
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This article compares local volunteer mobilizations offering welcome to forced migrants in the USA (Oregon) and UK (Yorkshire). We contribute to literature on volunteer-based humanitarianism by attending to the importance of affect and temporality in the politics of welcoming acts, presenting the notion of “affective arcs.” While extant literature argues that volunteers become increasingly contestational, we identify a countertendency as volunteers move from outrage toward pragmatism. Through long-term ethnographic engagement, we argue that affective arcs reveal a particular understanding of “the political” and an underlying belief in a fair nation state that has not reckoned with colonial legacies in migration governance. By carefully tracing affective arcs of volunteer humanitarian acts, this article offers original insights into the constrained political possibilities of these local forms of welcome.

Migration and Society

Advances in Research

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