Dissertation Abstracts

Disentangling the coloniality in NGOs: racialisation, resistance and deterrence of Northern Central American migrants in Mexico

Author: Erika Herrera Rosales, erika.herrera.rosales@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Gurminder Bhambra and Anastasia Chamberlen
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: international migration , decoloniality/postcolonialism , non-govermental organisations , Latin America
Areas of Research: Migration , Human Rights and Global Justice , Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations


The role of NGOs in migration, especially with regards to Central American migration, in a country such as Mexico has been highly regarded and indisputably relevant. The presence of casas del migrante has not only counteracted the state’s discourse but also impacted the lives of migrants. Notwithstanding, not much attention has been given to the effects of NGOs’ practices and rhetoric whilst they seek to help and care for migrants. This research project explores the power dynamics between NGOs and migrants through the hierarchization of migrants and perpetuation of structural inequalities. To do so, the study adopts postcolonial and decolonial theoretical perspectives. It delves into the racism surrounding migration, mechanisms of deterrence and control, and considers instances of resistance present in migrants' journeys. For my research, I conducted 38 semi-structured interviews with NGOs staff members and migrants coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Between 2018 and 2019, I visited several shelters and organisations in three key migrant cities: Tapachula, Tijuana and Mexico City. Also, I carried out a thematic analysis of 20 publications to understand how humanitarian organisations discursively represent migrants. This has allowed me to unpack the context of violence and focus on migrants’ victim status. I have also found how NGOs control migrants through waiting periods and family dynamics. Finally, this study explores how integration is still rooted in a colonial framework that sees migration as a problem and is directed from a top-down approach.