A network of international organizations has launched a report, Citizenship Participation of Americans Living Outside the United States, celebrating the achievements of overseas activism in 2017 and reflecting on the role of Americans living overseas in exercising political participation from around the globe.
Without a doubt the United States is living a historic moment, and its civil society is mobilizing for change. While much attention has been paid to the participation of civil society within the United States, there is a sector of U.S society that, while less visible, has also mobilized to action in 2017, and that is American citizens living outside the United States, a population that some know as “American expats”, “American migrants”, or “overseas Americans.” There are around 9 million Americans living outside the country, travelling, studying, living and working. Historically, this group has been on the fringes of social activism and not recognized as an active part of the electorate. However, during the year 2017 Americans overseas joined fellow Americans and other nationalities in organizing with a surprising show of force and numbers even from outside their country.
This report aims to highlight the activities and refl ections of a particular group of Americans living overseas in 13 countries and 4 continents and their 19 grassroots organizations during 2017. While there are hundreds of overseas American-led organizations that aim to mobilize Americans for social change, this group of 19 joined together over the course of 2017 through informal and formal global networks to exercise their citizenship and participate politically from outside the United States. This network is perhaps unique in that it represents what could be argued as a new and emerging movement of grassroots overseas organizing, which began out of necessity from the ground up in order for US citizens to have their voices heard from abroad.
By collecting the experiences of how Americans overseas have collectively worked together to exercise their citizenship, even from outside the country, the report hopes to bring attention to the impact these organizations had in the surge of political movements in 2017 and make an argument for the valuable political resource that Americans overseas can represent to political advocacy. This report also seeks to highlight how participating overseas not only had an external impact through advocacy and mobilizing, but an internal impact on those individuals participating as they developed a new understanding of the importance of exercising their citizenship even while living outside their country of origin. Finally, the report seeks to share lessons learned with others inside and outside the United States and inspire other “American migrants” to participate in peaceful and democratic actions no matter where they are living in the world.
The report can be read here.