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Diaspora politics

Diaspora politics

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Diaspora politics is the political behavior
Theories of political behavior
Theories of political behavior, as an aspect of political science, attempt to quantify and explain the influences that define a person's political views, ideology, and levels of political participation...

 of transnational ethnic diaspora
Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

s, their relationship with their ethnic homeland
Homeland
A homeland is the concept of the place to which an ethnic group holds a long history and a deep cultural association with —the country in which a particular national identity began. As a common noun, it simply connotes the country of one's origin...

s and their host states, as well as their prominent role in ethnic conflicts. The study of diaspora politics is part of the broader field of diaspora studies
Diaspora studies
Diaspora studies is an academic field established in the late twentieth century to study dispersed ethnic populations, which are often termed diaspora peoples...

.

To understand a diaspora's politics, one must first understand its historical context and attachments: A diaspora is a transnational community that defined itself as a singular ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 based upon its shared identity
Cultural identity
Cultural identity is the identity of a group or culture, or of an individual as far as one is influenced by one's belonging to a group or culture. Cultural identity is similar to and has overlaps with, but is not synonymous with, identity politics....

. Diasporas result from historical emigration from an original homeland
Homeland
A homeland is the concept of the place to which an ethnic group holds a long history and a deep cultural association with —the country in which a particular national identity began. As a common noun, it simply connotes the country of one's origin...

. In modern cases, this migration can be historically documented, and the diaspora associated with a certain territory. Whether this territory is in fact the homeland of a specific ethnic group, is a political matter. The older the migration, the less evidence there is for the event: in the case of the Roma people the migration, the homeland, and the migration route have not yet been accurately determined. A claim to a homeland always has political connotations, and is often disputed.

Self-identified diasporas place great importance on their homeland, because of their ethnic and cultural association with it - especially if it has been 'lost' or 'conquered'. This has led ethnic nationalist movements
Ethnic nationalism
Ethnic nationalism is a form of nationalism wherein the "nation" is defined in terms of ethnicity. Whatever specific ethnicity is involved, ethnic nationalism always includes some element of descent from previous generations and the implied claim of ethnic essentialism, i.e...

 within several diasporas, often resulting in the establishment of a sovereign
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 homeland. But even when these are established, it is rare for the complete diaspora population to return to the homeland, and the remaining diaspora community typically retains significant emotional attachment to the homeland, and the co-ethnic population there.

Ethnic diaspora communities are now recognized by scholars as "inevitable" and "endemic" features of the international system, writes Yossi Shain
Yossi Shain
Yossi Shain is an academic specializing in international relations, comparative politics and diaspora politics. Yossi received his PhD from Yale in 1988. He formerly headed the political science department at Tel Aviv University...

 and Tamara Cofman Wittes
Tamara Cofman Wittes
Tamara Cofman Wittes is a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at the United States Department of State. Wittes has written about democratic reform in the Arab world and about the Arab-Israeli conflict.-Biography:...

, for the following reasons:
  1. First, within each of a diaspora's host states, resident members can organize domestically to maximize their political clout.
  2. Second, a diaspora can exert significant pressure in its homeland's domestic political arena regarding issues of diaspora concern.
  3. Lately, a diaspora's transnational community can engage directly with third-party states and international organizations, in effect bypassing its homeland and host state governments.


Diasporas are thus perceived as transnational political entities, operating on "behalf of their entire people", and capable of acting independently from any individual state (be it their homeland or host states.)

See also

  • Identity politics
    Identity politics
    Identity politics are political arguments that focus upon the self interest and perspectives of self-identified social interest groups and ways in which people's politics may be shaped by aspects of their identity through race, class, religion, sexual orientation or traditional dominance...

  • Transnationalism
    Transnationalism
    Transnationalism is a social movement and scholarly research agenda grown out of the heightened interconnectivity between people and the receding economic and social significance of boundaries among nation states....

  • Diaspora politics in the United States
    Diaspora politics in the United States
    Diaspora politics in the United States is the study of the political behavior of transnational ethnic diasporas, their relationship with their ethnic homelands and their host states, as well as their prominent role in ethnic conflicts. This article describes case studies and theories of political...