Unexpected usage no. 5: Day Without Immigrants

Pierre-Carl Langlais has a PhD in information and communication science and is working with OpenEdition Lab on the unexpected reader detector. Studying OpenEdition’s statistics, he discovered several enlightening cases of how content on the platform has been read and reappropriated, which we are sharing here.

If you would like to tell us about other cases, please contact us at lab@openedition.org

All the unexpected readings we have explored so far can be described as “sudden exhibitions”: articles, some of them old, find themselves thrown into the spotlight by the actions of various curators.

But the unexpected can also be structural and have its origins in a more sustained collective interest. On 16 February 2017, several immigrants who had settled in the United States “went on strike”: they stopped working in protest against Donald Trump’s policies. This initiative was not new: it referred to a previous “Day Without Immigrants” organized against George Bush in 2006, which was the subject of a study published in 2019 in the European Journal of American Studies (http://ejas.revues.org/7717).

The research article here feeds into a memorial chain: produced in 2009, it connects the movement of 2006 to a “revival” 11 years later. Here the dynamic of the anomaly is very different: instead of there being a “spike” isolated from the rest of the distribution, there was a gradual increase throughout much of the month of February as the movement gained structural momentum on social media and became more talked about.


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