Sramana Majumdar

"Violence, Identity and Self-determination: Narratives of conflict from the Kashmir Valley" 4:15 PM, Monday 18 Nov Room 239, BYC Bryn Mawr College

Exposure Index

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Diasporas in Home Country Politics

Diasporas have been studied for their effects on the economics, politics, and culture of their host countries, usually Western countries.  Much less attention has been given to diaspora effects on their countries of origins, and especially little attention has been given to diaspora effects on the politics of their origin countries.  This page has been initiated to bring together research on precisely this topic: the power of diasporas in home country politics.  All Asch Center people are invited to submit work of this kind–your own or others’–to Clark McCauley (  Titles and abstracts submitted will be posted on this page.   The goal is to develop an interdisciplinary subculture that will forward understanding of  “Diasporas in Home Country Politics.”

1. Maria Koinova (
Diasporas and democratization in the postcommunist world
Communist and Post-Communist Studies 42 (2009) 41-64
If diaspora communities are socialized with democratic values in Western societies, they could be expected to be sympathetic to the democratization of their home countries. However, there is a high degree of variation in their behavior. Contrary to the predominant understanding in the literature that diasporas act in exclusively nationalist ways, this article argues that they do engage with the democratization of their home countries. Various challenges to the sovereignty of their homelands explain whether diasporas involve with procedural or liberal aspects of democratization. Drawing evidence from the activities of the Ukrainian, Serbian, Albanian and Armenian diasporas after the end of communism, I argue that unless diasporas are linked to home countries that enjoy both international legal and domestic sovereignty, they will involve only with procedural aspects of democratization. Diasporas filter international pressure to democratize post-communist societies by utilizing democratic procedures to advance unresolved nationalist goals.

2.  Maria Koinova (
Diasporas and secessionist conflicts: The mobilization of the Armenian, Albanian and Chechen diasporas
Ethnic and Racial Studies 2010, 28(4), 1-24
This article examines the impact of diasporas on secessionist conflicts, focusing on the Albanian, Armenian and Chechen diasporas and the conflicts in Kosovo, Karabakh and Chechnya during the 1990s. How do diasporas radicalize these conflicts? I argue that despite differences in diaspora communal characteristics and the types of the secessionist conflicts, a common pattern of mobilization develops. Large-scale diasporic support for secessionism emerges only after independence is proclaimed by the local elites. From that point onwards diasporas become engaged in a conflict spiral, and transnational coalitions are formed between local secessionist and diaspora groups. Depending on the organizational strength of the local strategic centre and the diasporic institutions, these coalitions endure or dissipate. Diasporas exert radicalization influences on the conflict spiral on two specific junctures – when grave violations of human rights occur in the homeland and when local moderate elites start losing credibility that they can achieve the
secessionist goal.

3.  Maria Koinova (
Can conflict-generated diasporas be moderate actors during episodes of contested sovereignty? Lebanese and Albanian diasporas compared
Review of International Studies, 2010, 1-26
Conflict-generated diasporas are considered likely to maintain radical behaviours.  This article seeks to explain why and how they nevertheless adopt moderate claims, especially when advocating highly sensitive issues such as state sovereignty. Focusing on groups in the US I investigate the Lebanese diaspora linked to the pro-sovereignty movement in Lebanon (2000-2005) and the Albanian diaspora linked to Kosovo’s independence movement (1999-2008). The contentious episodes take place during the original homeland’s post-conflict reconstruction. Embedded in the literatures on diasporas, conflicts, and transnational social movements, this article argues that instrumental approach towards the achievement of sovereignty explains why conflict-generated diasporas adopt moderate behaviours. Diasporas hope that by linking their claims to a global political opportunity structure of ‘liberalism’ they ‘play the game’ of the international community interested in promoting the liberal paradigm, and thus expect to obtain its support for the legitimisation of their pro-sovereignty goals. Diaspora entrepreneurs advance their claims in a two-step process. Initially they use frame bridging and frame extension to formulate their existing grievances. Then, an increased responsiveness from their host-state emerges to sustain their initial moderation. While individuals or groups in diaspora circles occasionally issue threats during the contentious episodes, the majority in the diaspora consider moderate politics as their dominant behaviour.

4. Sumanasiri Liyanage.  (

Post-War Challenges and Opportunities: How could diaspora community get involved? Work-in-progress paper.  An earlier version presented 26 September 2010 at the School of Oriental and African studies, University of London.

Abstract.  This paper endeavors to do two things. First, it makes an attempt at cognizing the post-war situation in Sri Lanka focusing especially on the challenges and opportunities the new context has offered to the country and its people. Secondly, based on the premise that the diaspora community can play a positive and constructive role in the new context, it intends to make a contribution to ongoing discussion about what kind of perspectives/s would assist the diaspora community to get involved in dealing with post-war challenges and exploring opportunities.  Nonetheless, as some commentators observed, “In the wake of that resounding military victory, both the Sri Lankan government and its critics have failed to engage Sri Lankan diasporas and to understand their complexity. Indeed, their collective actions have excluded diasporic populations”. The post-war situation in association with long-term trends since the late 1970s in one sense provides an extremely limited space for progressive forces to operate. However, the opportunities now opened up may assist in broadening this limited space if meaningful actions are taken. I submit that the direction towards which Sri Lanka would move in near future is still not certain and would depend on multiple complex factors. Hence multiple scenarios are possible and the directionality depends partly on human intervention. Although the goals of human intervention are not contextually determined, the pattern of human intervention has to be designed keeping the prevailing socio-political and economic context in mind. It is interesting and useful to note that the activities of contending social actors should be treated as an inseparable part of this context.

The paper is structured as follows: Section 1 focuses on the formation Sri Lankan diaspora and its varying characteristics. Section 2 analyzes the principal features of post-war situation in Sri Lanka, with special reference to new challenges and opportunities. Section 3 examines the implications of the post-war situation for the Sri Lankan diaspora.