Publication of the Month: Oct 2014

Recasting diaspora strategies through feminist care ethics’ by Elaine Ho, Mark Boyle, and Brenda Yeoh, Geoforum

DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2014.08.004

Elaine Ho (FASS Geography), Mark Boyle (University of Ireland), and Brenda Yeoh (FASS Geography) examine diaspora strategies, arguing that they should be calibrated so as to promote pro-social caring relationships. They coin ‘diaspora economies of care’, discussing the diaspora-homeland relationship in emotional, moral, and service terms, and exploring the importance of care in strengthening these aspects.

The diaspora centred development agenda holds that migrants lead transnational lives and contribute to the material well being of their homelands both from afar and via circular migration. Concomitant with the ascendance of this agenda there has arisen a new field of public policy bearing the title ‘diaspora strategies’. Diaspora strategies refer to proactive efforts by migrant-sending states to incubate, fortify, and harness transfers of resources from diaspora populations to homelands. This paper argues that diaspora strategies are problematic where they construe the diaspora-homeland relationship as an essentially pragmatic, instrumental, and utilitarian one. We suggest that a new generation of more progressive diaspora strategies might be built if these strategies are recast through feminist care ethics and calibrated so that they fortify and nurture caring relationships that serve the public good. Our call is for an approach towards state-diaspora relationships that sees diaspora-centred development as an important but corollary outcome that arises from prioritising caring relationships. To this end we introduce the term ‘diaspora economies of care’ to capture the derivative flow of resources between diasporas and homelands that happens when their relationship is premised on feminist care ethics. We introduce three types of diaspora economies of care, focusing on the emotional, moral, and service aspects of the diaspora-homeland relationship, and reflect upon the characteristics of each and how they might be strengthened later by foregrounding care now.

umang dutt photo

(Photo by Umang Dutt)
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