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Diasporas and Contested Sovereignty: Transnational Diaspora Mobilization in Europe and Its Impact on Political Proceses in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Middle East

Final Report Summary - DIASPORACONTEST (Diasporas and Contested Sovereignty: Transnational Diaspora Mobilization in Europe and Its Impact on Political Proceses in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Middle East)

The ERC Starting Grant “Diasporas and Contested Sovereignty” has completed a ground-breaking multi-methods political science study investigating conditions and causal mechanisms leading to the transnational mobilization of conflict-generated diasporas in Europe vis-à-vis polities experiencing contested sovereignty in the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East. Between 2012-2017 a team of researchers conducted close to 500 interviews during multi-sited fieldwork studying the Albanian, Armenian, Bosnian, Iraqi, Kurdish, and Palestinian diasporas in five states in Europe – the France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom – as well as in Brussels concerning diaspora influence on European institutions, and in Armenia, Bosnia, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Kosovo in the European neighborhood. The project progressed from qualitative comparative analysis, through two waves of inter-coder procedures, integrating interdisciplinary findings, scattered literatures and newly acquired insights from the team members’ interviews through rigorous methodology. The project culminated in the conduct of the first of its kind cross-national survey of conflict-generated diasporas in Europe: 3,000 respondents were polled from hard-to-reach populations of the Iraqi, Kurdish and Palestinian diasporas in the UK, Sweden, and Germany in 2017. In the course of this ERC project, the five team members gave over 95 presentations to academic and non-academic audiences, conducted six academic workshops, and participated in the annual conferences of the International Studies Association, European Consortium on Political Research, American Political Science Association, British International Studies Association, and Association for the Study of Nationalities, among others. Some of the research output has already been published in prestigious journals, such as European Journal of International Relations, International Studies Review, International Political Science Review, Terrorism and Political Violence, Global Networks, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Ethnopolitics, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and a book with Ashgate. A special issue “Diaspora Mobilizations for Conflict and Postconflict Reconstruction” was published online with Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies in 2017; another special issue on “The Politics of Sending States, Migrants and Diasporas” is expected to be published with International Political Science Review in 2018; and a third special issue on “Diasporas Mobilizations for Transitional Justice” is in progress with Ethnic and Racial Studies. Numerous other publications are currently in progress, including two book manuscripts, and more than 10 other single-authored or co-authored articles and books. The most important conclusions of this project consider that the relationship between states and diasporas needs to be analyzed beyond statist paradigms, and “unpacked” systematically through clear concepts, operationalizations and measurements. The concepts of diaspora “socio-spatial positionality” and “translocality” provided insights into studying diaspora linkages beyond host-states and home-states, while considering diaspora linkages to numerous other global locations. Such linkages often shape diaspora mobilizations more or on par with homeland and hostland dynamics, especially as conflict-generated diasporas are linked to states experiencing contested sovereignty, where institutions are weak and oftentimes dysfunctional. The project also provided various operationalizations of “diaspora mobilization” beyond simply considering them as “radical” or “moderate”: diaspora mobilizations could be operationalized on the ways interest representation is channeled through state institutions, civil society and transnational networks, as well as on different levels of intensity and sustainability over time. While developing a unique body of knowledge that emphasizes the importance of different global contexts shaping diaspora mobilizations, the project reimagines the ways we think about the relationship between diasporas, states, conflict and peace, and opens new or advances incipient scholarly conversations about the role of diasporas in transitional justice, weak and fragile states, and ethnic and civic activism. More information could be obtained at the project website: