Citizenship and Diaspora: A State Home for Transnational Politics?

POLITICS FROM AFAR: TRANSNATIONAL DIASPORAS AND NETWORKS, Terrance Lyons, Peter Mandaville, eds., Hurst/Columbia University Press, 2011

Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-14

19 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2011

See all articles by Peter J. Spiro

Peter J. Spiro

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: February 4, 2011

Abstract

This paper, a revised version of which will appear in Politics from Afar: Transnational Diasporas and Networks (Hurst/Columbia University Press), explores the legal status of citizenship as a vehicle for diaspora and globalized forms of community. The paper focuses on the rise in the acceptance of plural citizenship and the expansion of external citizen rights, especially political rights. Citizenship’s increasing flexibility enhances state capacity to comprehend diaspora, that is, to allow the state to serve as the agent of diaspora community. Because individuals who are, as a matter of social fact, members in diaspora communities can now express and actualize that attachment through the citizenship tie, the state would seem a plausible home to diaspora. The trend towards extending full political rights to nonresident citizens is consistent with this hypothesis.

These developments do not necessarily establish citizenship as a sustainable home for diaspora, however. The extension of citizenship rights to diaspora communities may not evidence a strong tie. Little is required of external citizens. In most cases, external citizens who naturalize in their new state of residence maintain their original citizenship as a default. The cost of retaining original citizenship is effectively zero. Electoral participation rates among external citizens are low.

There may also be normative issues with the state acting as institutional home of diaspora resulting from the continuing territorial governance authorities of the state. These concerns might be addressed by detaching citizenship from territorial governance, composing a polity to include both internal and external citizen populations, then devolving territorial governance to a sub-entity with respect to which voting participation rights would be limited to resident citizens. But this device would not address homeland interests on the part of external citizens and rising circular migration. Citizenship and the state may thus fall short as institutional vehicles for political diaspora.

Keywords: citizenship, diaspora, dual citizenship, voting rights

Suggested Citation

Spiro, Peter J., Citizenship and Diaspora: A State Home for Transnational Politics? (February 4, 2011). POLITICS FROM AFAR: TRANSNATIONAL DIASPORAS AND NETWORKS, Terrance Lyons, Peter Mandaville, eds., Hurst/Columbia University Press, 2011; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1755231

Peter J. Spiro (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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