Peter G. Mandaville, Terence Lyons. Politics from Afar: Transnational Diasporas and Networks. London: Hurst & Co., 2012. 278 S. ISBN 978-1-84904-175-1; ISBN 978-1-84904-185-0.
Reviewed by Thibaut Jaulin
Published on H-Soz-u-Kult (January, 2014)
P. G. Mandaville u.a. (Hrsg.): Politics from Afar
Politics from Afar focuses on transnational mobilization in the context of global migration. It includes contributions from leading scholars on transnational and Diaspora studies, both case studies and theoretical discussions.
In the introduction, Terrence Lyons and Peter Mandaville break with common views on globalization and transnationalism as harbinger of cosmopolitanism and post national identity. They argue that transnational politics is fundamentally about local and parochial issues, which represent the most effective way to mobilize a Diaspora. However, they insist that dynamics within the homeland can transform what is means to be member of a Diaspora. Diaspora identities are thus hybrid and constantly in flux. The contribution of Fiona B. Anderson complements such views. She suggests considering diasporas as political projects rather than actors. Using a social movement framework, she hypothesizes that diasporas are actually constructed by the “strategic deployment of identity frames and categories” by political entrepreneur. She eventually compares three forms of transnationalism (nationalism, leftist movements, and Islamism) and proposes to classify different types of transnationalism according to the extent that they are defined by a particular identity or a more universal ideology.
The contributions of the volume investigate the ways into which political outcomes are shaped by such transnational mobilizations. The two contributions of the first section, entitled “From Remittances to Politics”, show that migrants’ contribution to homeland development and/or political liberalization largely depends on the broader political and economic context. The first, by Heather Williams, deals with migrant philanthropy in Mexico. It explores the impact of the 3 for 1-government program (which multiplies migrants’ financial contributions to hometown community projects trough public/private partnership) on governance and development. The second, by Eva Ostergaard-Nielsens, focuses on the dynamics of the relations between the Moroccan State and the migrants’ associations in Spain in a context of political liberalization and autocratic resilience (in Morocco).
The second and third sections include four contributions on diasporas’ engagement in homeland conflicts and politics. While diasporas are often seen as having more radical political views than the population in the homeland, these contributions show that diasporas’ political positioning is not only diverse, but changing overtime. Camilla Orjuela explores the evolution of Tamil Diaspora’s organization and discourse before and after the 2009 Tamil defeat and argue that gender, class, generation, and area of residence are key factors in determining Diasporic identities and political engagement. Feargal Cochrane, on Irish-Americans, shows how the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and the evolution of Irish migration trends (from compulsory and permanent to voluntary and temporary, even after the 2009 economic crisis) have led to the demobilization of the Irish-American Diaspora. Finally, Terrence Lyons and Laura Hammong explore the role played by the Ethiopian Diaspora in the US (for the first) and the Somali Diaspora (from Somaliland) in the UK (for the second) in homeland’s elections. They both highlight how diasporas (including so-called “part-time diaspora”, i.e. those commuting between the host-land and the homeland) lobby the host-government to support their cause, but also directly and massively contribute to fund political campaigns, to discuss political proposals, to designate party leaders.
The last section includes three contributions dealing with transnational citizenship. José Itzigsohn explores the relation between territory, belonging, and rights in the case of the Dominican Republic, and how such relation changes across historical periods. He opposes the enfranchisement of the Dominican population abroad and the denial of rights (including residence) to people of Haitian origin born in the Dominican Republic. He concludes that the sending state retains its control over the political process and that the state of residence remains the main locus for political participation and the exercise of citizenship rights. The last two contributions consist in theoretical discussions. David Scott Fitzgerald argues that efforts by migrants sending states to include their citizens and co-ethnic abroad in the nation and polity highlights the robustness of the Westphalian system. He introduces the concept of citizenship á la carte and shows how the terms of the social contract between emigrants and sending states are re-negotiated with an emphasis over rights, rather than obligations, and the legitimacy of plural affiliations. In contrast, Peter J. Spiro recalls that the state is largely in the business of territorial governance, and argues that the extension of citizenship rights to diaspora communities (dual citizenship, external voting) may not evidence a strong tie because the cost of retaining citizenship is low. He concludes that citizenship is unlikely to supply an institutional home for diaspora.
The various chapters of this volume are extremely stimulating. In addition to contributing to the understanding of the role played by diasporas in political outcomes, they represent a significant breach in the theoretical discussion on transnational citizenship.
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Thibaut Jaulin. Review of Mandaville, Peter G.; Lyons, Terence, Politics from Afar: Transnational Diasporas and Networks.
H-Soz-u-Kult, H-Net Reviews.
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