Scholars of immigrant politics have noted a pattern among diaspora communities that has been called ‘diaspora death’, in which homeland activism fades, starved of resources and attention. Instead, it has been argued, where activism continues, it morphs into hostland activism, as immigrants seek to improve life where they are living. In short, immigrant activism wins over homeland activism for reasons of convenience and funding. But this claim requires interrogation. Diaspora communities react not only to attention and resources, but to the spatial landscapes that confront them.
This paper examines the spatial characteristics of diaspora sites of activism in the aftermath of acute repression at home. Examining the phenomena of physical proximity, porosity, and scalar differentiation, and relying on data from diaspora populations from Bhutan and Myanmar, this paper repositions physical location as an important factor in shaping mobilization trajectories, pointing to, among other elements: relative resources, physical path dependence, and bi-directional flows of information.
About the speaker
Dr. Susan Banki is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Zolberg Center for Mobility and Migration at the New School for Social Research. Susan studies the political, institutional, and social contexts that explain the roots of and solutions to human rights violations and social justice abuses. In particular, she is interested in the ways that questions of sovereignty, transnationalism, and citizenship/membership have shaped our responses to conflict and injustice, particularly examining institutions such as the international refugee regime, diasporas, and the humanitarian system. Susan’s focus is in the Asia-Pacific region, where she has conducted extensive field research in Thailand, Myanmar/Burma, Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Japan on refugee/migrant protection, statelessness and border control. Her current projects include: the work of diasporas in responding to acute crises at home; humanitarian responses to complex displacement contexts; and the role of creative arts in transnational activism.
This event is co-hosted by the Migration, Mobilities and Social Politics Research Cluster and the International Migration Research Centre (IMRC).