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The ‘Diaspora Strategies’ of Migrant-Sending Countries: Migration-as-Development Reinvented?

Date and time

2012.11.05 to 2012.11.06, 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM


Over the past decade there has been growing scholarly interest in the ‘diaspora strategies’ of migrant-sending countries in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in how these strategies are constituted and played out through an increasingly dominant migration and development, or migration-as-development, discourse in the international development policy sphere. The latter, migration-as-development (MAD), emphasizes the way migration is mobilized actively by the state and other actors to advance development goals. The MAD discourse argues that (transnational) migrants are actual and potentially powerful agents of economic and social development in their home countries and communities. It promotes a policy vision (usually articulated at the state level) that aims to both encourage higher levels of migrant remittances, as well as to more effectively control, capture and allocate migrant contributions to national prosperity and welfare. As such, MAD is shaped by key assumptions about which countries are in need of development, which (migrant) actors can or should contribute to national development, including under what circumstances, and what constitutes ‘development’.

This workshop will critically interrogate the assumptions underlying the MAD discourse by examining the currently under-studied relationship between MAD and the growing popularity of the ‘diaspora strategies’ promoted by migrant-sending countries spanning the development spectrum. ‘Diaspora strategies’ refer to purposeful initiatives by migrant-sending countries aimed at mobilizing their citizens (and even former citizens) abroad to contribute towards advancing the country’s economic and political interests. These initiatives include using rhetoric to emphasize the significance of citizens-in-migrancy, and implementing legislation and policies to extend rights and responsibilities to them. The label, ‘diaspora’, attached to such strategies can be, however, problematized for the very acting of naming the diaspora cements a national and diasporic imagination where it may not have been salient amongst citizens-in-migrancy previously. Additionally, contemporary proliferating emigrant mobilities (e.g. transnational sojourning patterns) may further complicate national claims of affiliation, identity and belonging on which ‘diaspora strategies’ are premised.

Our workshop will highlight ‘diaspora strategies’ trends in the Asia-Pacific region and, in particular, Southeast Asian countries. This approach opens up theoretical space for exploring and re-connecting the conceptual divide between so-called ‘developing’ countries (usually incorporated into the MAD discourse) and ‘developed’ countries (largely detached from the MAD discourse and framed as brain circulation instead). In addition, the regional focus will bring into view the distinctive logics and aspirations underpinning ‘diaspora strategies’ by member countries as well as draw out the commonalities shared with countries implementing similar policies in other regional contexts such as Africa, the Americas and Europe. Significantly, selected papers will focus specifically on discursive, legal and policy mechanisms aimed at engaging with Diasporas, usually promoted at the state-level, while keeping in view its interactions with migrants, migrant associations and other groups.


Asia Research Institute Seminar Room Tower Block Level 10, 469A Bukit Timah Road National University of Singapore







migration, Singapore, Diaspora Strategies, Development

Economic sectors


Content types

Policy analysis

Target groups

Policymakers, Public awareness, and Researchers

Regulation domains

Remittances and co-development programs

Geographical focuses

Asia, China, Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan