This seminar is hosted by the International Migration Institute, an Oxford Martin School Institute
Speaker: Alan Gamlen, Lecturer, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
Abstract: Why have so many states established similar-looking diaspora institutions since the 1990s? Formal state institutions dedicated to emigrants and their descendants have been virtually ignored by mainstream political studies, partly because they fall in the geographical grey area between domestic politics and international relations around which political analyses are usually organized. However, diaspora institutions are now found in approximately half of all United Nations member states. This study offers three theoretically-grounded explanations of why this has come about: one in which instrumentally rational states are tapping the resources of emigrants and their descendants, another in which value-rational states are embracing lost members of the nation-state, and a third in which states are engaging diasporas in response to international advice and expectations regarding migration management. We assess all three approaches empirically, analyzing a new longitudinal dataset for 116 countries in the period 1990-2005, testing hypotheses derived from this theoretical framework and comparing measures of overall model fit. Our results also suggest flaws in prevailing accounts of states tapping and embracing their diasporas, and highlight the important role of diaspora engagement policies in the global governance of migration.
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