Diaspora: Actions and Aggravation


Treading carefully as we embark on research exploring an interesting paradigm: Do ‘everyday’ diasporic groups and their collective identity exacerbated social and political challenges in their home countries?

FMH..... As a Scotsman whose lived abroad in countries within Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East, I have met countless fellow Scots, many remind me of the song (The Old Sod), “there’s nothing more Scottish than a Scotsman abroad”, In other words, people that ordinarily wouldn’t socialise with others on the sole premise of having Scottish lineage, people that lament national pasts, attend ceilidhs, Burn's night suppers, whiskey nights and subscribe to a social club or other gathering celebrating an often romantic view of Scotland. A view amplified by, reciting Poetry (Robert Burns mainly), adhering to traditional dress code or practices like addressing the haggis …. the list goes on

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This of course is a relatively healthy bringing together of like-minded people with a familiar identity in a foreign place, a ritual of shared pleasure expressed in homespun dance, music, food and drink. A cultural reaffirmation that’s comforting or at the very least, a familiar distraction in distant lands. It isn’t just a Scottish thing of course; each community of diaspora or expats seems to behave in similar ways.

However, is there more to the notion that some diasporic groups exacerbate political and social aspects at home. Initial responses were obviously matter of fact…. “Yes”, was the answer, "just look at the impact of Irish diaspora in the USA and their role in the ‘Troubles’ (Read) or the Jewish-American diasporic involvement in conflicts over Nagorno-Karabakh and the West Bank and Gaza (Read)".

There is an impressive amount of literature on the negative (and positive) effects of diasporic groups when it comes to peacebuilding and conflict.

The interesting aspect of this research is the focus on ‘everyday’ diasporic groups and their members, those that might help hinder social or political progress within their home countries. In-group behaviors which to many perpetuate dangerous biases and historic resentment, whilst reinforcing class-divisions, elitism and privilege –

Discussion: Is this a traditional subscription to an un-imagined, collective identity with a problematic sense of belonging, place and culture?

F.M.H..... MLitt Peace & Conflict, Msc Architectural Conservation BA (Hons) Int. Architecture; MCSD, PgC TLHE
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