1st Edition

The Microfoundations of Diaspora Politics

Edited By Alexandra Délano Alonso, Harris Mylonas Copyright 2022
    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    The Microfoundations of Diaspora Politics examines the various actors within and beyond the state that participate in the design and implementation of diaspora policies, as well as the mechanisms through which diasporas are constructed by governments, political parties, diaspora entrepreneurs, or international organisations.

    Extant theories are often hard-pressed to capture the empirical variation and often end up identifying ‘exceptions’. The multidisciplinary group of contributors in this book theorise these ‘exceptions’ through three interrelated conceptual moves: first, by focusing on understudied aspects of the relationships between states as well as organised non-state actors and their citizens or co-ethnics abroad (or at home - in cases of return migration). Second, by examining dyads of ‘origin’ states and specific diasporic communities differentiated by time of emigration, place of residence, socio-economic status, migratory status, generation, or skills. Third, by considering migration in its multiple spatial and temporal phases (emigration, immigration, transit, return) and how they intersect to constitute diasporic identities and policies. These conceptual moves facilitate comparative research and help scholars identify the mechanisms connecting structural variables with specific policies by states (and other actors) as well as responses by the relevant diasporic communities.

    This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

    1. Unpacking the state and disaggregating the diaspora: The microfoundations of diaspora politics

    Alexandra Délano Alonso and Harris Mylonas

    2. Explaining the rise of diaspora institutions

    Alan Gamlen, Michael E. Cummings and Paul M. Vaaler

    3. Where and why can expatriates vote in regional elections? A comparative analysis of regional electoral practices in Europe and North America

    Jean-Thomas Arrighi and Jean-Michel Lafleur

    4. Competing for the diaspora's influence at home: party structure and transnational campaign activity in El Salvador

    Michael Ahn Paarlberg

    5. Diaspora policy in weakly governed arenas and the benefits of multipolar engagement: lessons from the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt

    Jennifer M. Brinkerhoff

    6. Bifurcated homeland and diaspora politics in China and Taiwan towards the Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia

    Enze Han

    7. The disinterested state: negative diasporic policy as an expression of state inclusion and national exclusion

    Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels

    8. Foreign policy priorities and ethnic return migration policies: group-level variation in Greece and Serbia

    Harris Mylonas and Marko Žilović

    9. States and standardisation: constructing the co-ethnic migrant story in Germany

    Olga Zeveleva

    10. Securing the diasporic ‘self’ by travelling abroad: Taglit-Birthright and ontological security

    Yehonatan Abramson

    11. ‘We’re not coming from Mars; we know how things work in Morocco!’ How diasporic Moroccan youth resists political socialisation in state-led homeland tours

    Rilke Mahieu


    Alexandra Délano Alonso is Associate Professor and Chair of Global Studies at The New School. Her work focuses on diaspora policies, Mexico-US migration, and the politics of memory in relation to borders and violence. Her most recent book is From Here and There: Diaspora Policies, Integration and Social Rights beyond Borders (Oxford University Press, 2018).  

    Harris Mylonas’s research contributes to our understanding of states’ management of diversity that may originate from national minorities, immigrants, diasporas, or refugees. He is Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University and the editor-in-chief of Nationalities Papers. His most recent book is The Politics of Nation-Building: Making Co-Nationals, Refugees, and Minorities (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

    "An innovative and well-researched volume that provides an important corrective to state-centric approaches to diasporic engagement policies. The chapters examine a wide range of national, subnational, and non-state institutions and the extent to which they engage or disengage from diasporic populations abroad, whose consciousness and experiences interface with official state narratives in different ways. There are few studies of diasporic politics that examine such a wide range of variables and outcomes." 

       - Takeyuki (Gaku) Tsuda, Professor of Anthropology, School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Arizona State University


    "For a long time, state-centred analyses focused on relationships between analytically homogenized states and ‘their’ diasporas. The contributors to this volume show that diasporic populations have many-sided and complex connections to homelands, often at a micro-level, but they are rarely subordinate or passive players. This book demonstrates that to understand diasporas, we need fully to excavate the social and political spaces above and below the national."

       - Robin Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Development Studies, University of Oxford 


    "After a period in which both case studies of state-diaspora relations and cross-national comparative typological analyses dominated the study of diaspora engagement policies, this book reveals that our field of study is ready to handle more complexity. The Microfoundations of Diaspora Politics gives us a fine-grained view of how an array of individuals, elites, political parties, organizations at different levels, regions, and lastly, also the international system, interact in the making and unmaking of diaspora policies and politics. Together, the chapters in this volume make a formidable contribution towards a multi-level, multi-actor, multi-spatial and longitudinal analysis of diaspora politics. They take us a step forward in confronting the challenge of studying not only diaspora policy design, but implementation. More fundamentally, through the treatment of some untypical and complex cases across the world they challenge our very definition of "diaspora engagement policies" as implying homogeneous, uplifting forms of linkage defined by the state for emigrants and their descendants alone. Region, religion, bureaucracies, and polities with competing nation-building claims are also constitutive of diasporic politics, often imbuing a degree of contention that we had previously hid in a black box. After this book we will have a hard time discarding that, and this is a welcome new challenge."

     - Luicy Pedroza, El Colegio de Mexico


    "Catching up with the study of diaspora politics? Look no further. This cutting-edge volume has everything you would expect and much more. Global in scope, rich in theory and full of empirical detail: an exceptional collection that will inspire scholars for years to come." 

     - Maarten Vink, Chair in Citizenship Studies, European University Institute


    "This volume offers a fresh and dynamic approach to the theme of homeland-diaspora politics. Through the study of concrete national and transnational cases, it looks at homeland actorness behind the shaping of policies but also gives voice to diaspora actors and their influence in the process. Each chapter combines solid theoretical underpinnings with first-rate analytical skills. In the end, the volume makes us think of the multi-dimensionality and complexity of state-diaspora relations and invites us to test the proposed ideas in other comparable cases. The collection of excellent authors is further proof of the high quality of the book."

        - Othon Anastasakis, Director of the South East European Studies Centre, St Antony's College, University of Oxford


    "By providing a comprehensive and incisive analysis of diasporic politics, this multidisciplinary volume appeals to scholars who are interested in thinking differently about the often assumed conjoined relationship between the nation, state and territory. Collectively, the chapters provide comparative perspectives of how diasporas engage with sending states and the multiple actors within and without. The volume showcases valuable empirical and conceptual insights that will provoke further deliberations on how diasporas are making a global impact today."

        - Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore.