31 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2006 Last revised: 11 Sep 2014
Where once the emigrant was remembered in her homeland through yellowing photographs, eventually perhaps forgotten to history or even cursed as a traitor, the emigrant today is celebrated, reconfigured as heroine. As Kim Barry argues in Home and Away, homeland states now see the emigrant as crucial to their projects of national advancement.
Today, states undertake a variety of bonding mechanisms - political, economic, and cultural - seeking to strengthen their ties to their diasporas. I survey such bonding mechanisms, offering a taxonomy that connects governmental policies from Mexico to the Philippines. Governments seeking to cement political ties have offered dual citizenship, voting from abroad, direct representation of expatriates, special visas for the diaspora, and government-issued diaspora membership documents. States have sought to capitalize on the economic strength of their overseas members by soliciting their support for sovereign diaspora bonds, development programs, and direct investment. They have also sought to attract returnees, who will often bring with them significant financial and human capital, and to ease return by negotiating for returnees' pensions to be transferred to them from the nation in which they worked. Finally, nations have sought to reshape their own collective image to include the diaspora, achieving this through explicit state recognition of the diaspora, establishment of agencies to serve the diaspora, legal protections for their overseas citizens, and special outreach to youth and retirees living abroad.
I ask to what extent such bonding practices are subject to regulation by the emigrant's host country. I assess constraints on such regulation in the United States created by the freedoms of association, speech, and travel. U.S. laws of general applicability, such as securities laws, and U.S. courts' unwillingness to enforce foreign revenue laws may make it more difficult for emigration states to pursue certain bonding mechanisms. Despite these limits, the domestic laws of immigration states like the United States should provide sufficient space for emigration states to bond with their diasporas.
Keywords: diaspora, immigration, citizenship, transnational law, emigrants
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