Ending mandatory detention campaign, Taylor TX, USA
Participant at the IGJ: Lauren Martin (University of Oulu)
“I worked on a campaign in which my activism and scholarship coincided. The timeframe of the research was two years because of publication procedures, while with a campaign you require outputs to be ready on the next day. The project was to develop a media campaign, and we were not allowed to think of “the general public”–it couldn’t be a target, that was the first sentence our media trainer said. The general public is not a person, you cannot deliver a message to it, and there are a lot of strategic issues when dealing with the messages you want to deliver through the media. In some cases the target included policy-makers; in others it included churches. We were thinking about reaching religious organizations that we knew were already active in immigration and detention issues; in other words, reaching organizations that were already organizing people. That was part of the research project. It was a place-based intervention. The idea behind it was that it ought to be inter-scalar, to be part of a national campaign, maintaining a critique of immigration policy. The community was happy to have a grassroots campaign and be part of it. At the same time, there were pieces written about it in the New York Times and Washington Post.”
Figure 12 demonstrates how the campaign to end mandatory detention focused on engagements with various publics. Here, identifying the specific public to engage with in research and dissemination was key as “the general public is not a person”. In this case the engagement with publics was in the research and dissemination phases and comprised mass-based organisations and the community in which we work, as well as academic publics in the research phase. However, within each of these publics, a specific type of person or group was targeted to make sure that the appropriate people were engaged with.