Diasporas and Their Involvement in Peace Processes

Project Coordinator Ashok Swain, Professor of Peace and Conflict Research

Project Period

2007–2009

Other Project Participants

Jonathan Hall, PhD Candidate
Roland Kostic, PhD Candidate
Bahar Baser, Project Intern

Project Description

In light of on-going globalization, environmental degradation, economic maldevelopment and violent conflict in many parts of the world, high levels of transnational migration flows will continue for the foreseeable future. An important puzzle to address is how the level of integration of immigrants abroad affects both their perceptions of, and impact on, efforts to build peace in their homelands. This question is part of a wider academic interest in how integration is related to the transnational behavior of diaspora communities. Understanding what shapes the attitudes and behavior of diasporas is very important given their potential power to influence the situation in the homeland for better or worse.

Previous research finds that some diasporas promote peace-building, and others a return to ethnic war. However the determinants of their attitudes and capabilities have yet to be fleshed out. Case studies will be conducted on diasporas originating from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Turkey. Through semi-structured interviews in Sweden, diaspora attitudes and capabilities will be mapped out. Subsequently, partially matched interviews will be carried out in their homelands, tracing some of their personal connections, but also interviewing other community members. This will facilitate identification of diaspora attitudes and impact of diasporas on homeland connections in comparative perspective.

Both home and host countries share a strong interest in understanding how diasporas may be encouraged to support peace-building efforts rather than foment ethnic nationalism and war. For homelands, moderating key diaspora communities and supporting their positive efforts may help to prevent the growth of transnational insurgencies and terrorist networks that might otherwise prove difficult and costly to defeat. For hostlands, it is important to prevent, or avoid inadvertently fuelling, conflicts that lead to humanitarian crises, deteriorating relations with homelands, and greater externalized costs paid by the international community (e.g. accommodating refugee outflows and subsequent repatriation endeavours, demand for humanitarian aid and development assistance, and international terrorism). In the process, new political, economic and social resources for building peace in the homeland may be tapped and nurtured.

Publications

Hall, Jonathan and Ashok Swain, "Catapulting Conflicts or Propelling Peace? Diasporas and Civil Wars", in Ashok Swain, Ramses Amer & Joakim Öjendal, eds. Globalization and Challenges to Peace (London, New York & New Delhi: Anthem Press, 2007).

Swain, Ashok, Ramses Amer and Joakim Öjendal, eds. Globalization and Challenges to Peace (London, New York & New Delhi: Anthem Press, 2007).

Kostic, Roland. "Strategies of livelihood in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina: A study of the economic predicament of returning home", Riksbanken Reconciliation project, Working Papers Series, Gothenburg University, February 2003. Download article as Acrobat file

Other Project Activities

"Diasporas and Their Involvement in Peace Processes", 14-16 May 2007 at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. For more information, please see www.peacenetwork.se/diaspora2007.

Main Financial Support

Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Useful Links

www.peacenetwork.se