Diaspora Engagement in War-Torn Societies

January 2011 – December 2015
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Part of the Oxford Diasporas Programme, this project explores the kind of community and society that may emerge from diaspora formation and engagement in conflict and post conflict settings. It traces the emergence of diasporas formed as a result of flight from conflict in Sri Lanka, the Somali regions and Afghanistan, investigating their socio-economic make-up, cohort and time of arrival, immigration status, and class, ethnic, generational, gender and other social cleavages, all of which shape diasporas’ capacity for engagement.

Mass refugee movements induced by conflict have contributed to the transformation of global society, particularly since the end of the Cold War. Substantial new diasporas have consolidated from these movements: the new social formations appear to be enduring and have undertaken a variety of forms of transnational activity, shaping both the societies in which diasporas find themselves and their home communities and societies.

While the role of diaspora in development has stimulated much debate over the last decade or so, it is only relatively recently that attention has turned to the influence of diasporas in war-torn societies. There has been a general shift in perception from ascribing diasporas a negative influence in fomenting and supporting conflict (as ‘war mongers’ or ‘peace-wreckers’) to the more positive view that they can assist with relief, peace-building, recovery and post-conflict reconstruction (as ‘peace-makers’ or ‘peace-builders’).  As is often the case, the reality is between the two, and the balance of forms of engagement shifts over time and according to circumstances.

Principal Investigator

Nicholas Van Hear


Giulia Liberatore (2014)
Leslie Fesenmyer (2013)


The Leverhulme Trust