The microfoundations of diaspora politics: unpacking the state and disaggregating the diaspora

Harris Mylonas
December 28, 2018

jemsAlexandra Délano Alonso and Harris Mylonas. 2017. “The Microfoundations of Diaspora Politics: Unpacking the State and Disaggregating the Diaspora,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies


Recognising the need to unpack the ‘state’ and problematise the term ‘diaspora’, in this special issue we examine the various actors within (and beyond) the state that participate in the design and implementation of diaspora policies, as well as the mechanisms through which diasporas are constructed by governments, political parties, diaspora entrepreneurs, or international organisations. Extant theories are often hard-pressed to capture the empirical variation and often end up identifying ‘exceptions’. We theorise these ‘exceptions’ through three interrelated conceptual moves: First, we focus on understudied aspects of the relationships between states as well as organised non-state actors and their citizens or co-ethnics abroad (or at home – in cases of return migration). Second, we examine dyads of origin states and specific diasporic communities differentiated by time of emigration, place of residence, socio-economic status, migratory status, generation, or skills. Third, we consider migration in its multiple spatial and temporal phases (emigration, immigration, transit, return) and how they intersect to constitute diasporic identities and policies. These conceptual moves contribute to comparative research in the field and allow us to identify the mechanisms connecting structural variables with specific policies by states (and other actors) as well as responses by the relevant diasporic communities.