Working Paper

Defining diaspora: Expanding upon process-oriented analysis of diaspora engagement

Published 13 July 2018 / By Jeffrey Hallock

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This paper follows the work of Rogers Brubaker (2005) to argue that definitional clarity of the term diaspora allows for a process-oriented analysis of diaspora engagement. Diaspora formation is not a natural consequence of displacement, but rather it is a political process predicated on a desire to remake the homeland. This paper argues that it is important to recognize that framing diaspora from both external (etic) and internal (emic) perspectives can influence and legitimize political mobilization. This calls for an understanding of ‘diaspora as practice’, a theory which postulates that we must evaluate claims, actions, and practices to have a realistic appraisal of how different migrant groups will affect political processes. This will help evaluate if a particular group is being framed by outside actors to help pass externally driven initiatives, or if the group can act as an independent ‘third level’ mediator that blends external knowledge of international peace-building norms with local customs to foster stability. Diaspora as practice can be used to evaluate individual cases of displacement to differentiate competing interests found in peace- and state-building processes.


Diaspora, hybrid peace, migration, peace-building, state-building


Jeffrey Hallock, Washington, D.C; email:


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