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Diasporas and International Relations Theory


  • Shain, Yossi
  • Barth, Aharon


In this article, we incorporate the study of diasporas into international relations (IR) theory by focusing on diasporas as independent actors who actively influence their homeland (kin-state) foreign policies. We argue that diasporic influences can best be understood by situating them in the ‘theoretical space’ shared by constructivism and liberalism; two approaches that acknowledge the impact of identity and domestic politics on international behavior. We also maintain that the exploration of diasporic activities can enrich both constructivism and liberalism. First, diasporas' identity-based motivations should be an integral part of the constructivist effort to explain the formation of national identities. Second, diasporic activities and influences in their homelands expand the meaning of the term ‘domestic politics’ to include not only politics inside the state but also inside the people For the liberal approach, this is a “new fact†in the Lakatosian sense of the word. We theorize that the extent of diasporic influence on homeland foreign policy is determined by three components that make up the ‘balance of power’ between homelands and diasporas. We then test this theory by delving into the interaction between the newly established state of Armenia and its powerful diaspora, and by comparing this case with examples taken from the relations between Israel and diaspora Jews.

Suggested Citation

  • Shain, Yossi & Barth, Aharon, 2003. "Diasporas and International Relations Theory," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 449-479, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:57:y:2003:i:03:p:449-479_57

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael E. Cummings & Alan Gamlen, 2019. "Diaspora engagement institutions and venture investment activity in developing countries," Journal of International Business Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 2(4), pages 289-313, December.
    2. Artjoms Ivlevs & Roswitha M. King, 2017. "Does emigration reduce corruption?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 171(3), pages 389-408, June.
    3. Michel Beine & Khalid Sekkat, 2014. "Emigration and origin country's institutions: does the destination country matter?," Middle East Development Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 20-44, January.
    4. Michel Beine & Khalid Sekkat, 2013. "Skilled migration and the transfer of institutional norms," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-19, December.
    5. Jane Southcott & Rohan Nethsinghe, 2019. "Resilient Senior Russian-Australian Voices: “We Live to Sing and Sing to Live”," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 14(1), pages 39-58, March.
    6. Artjoms Ivlevs & Roswitha M. King, 2014. "Emigration, remittances and corruption experience of those staying behind," Working Papers 20141411, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    7. Tsourapas, Gerasimos, 2018. "Authoritarian Emigration States: Soft Power and Cross-Border Mobility in the Middle East," SocArXiv w58yj, Center for Open Science.
    8. MyungJa Kim, 2015. "How Does Diaspora Mobilization Become a Causal Feature of Structural Change?," Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, , vol. 2(3), pages 266-290, December.
    9. Idean Salehyan, 2008. "The Externalities of Civil Strife: Refugees as a Source of International Conflict," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 52(4), pages 787-801, October.
    10. Aram TERZYAN, 2019. "Russian policy, Russian Armenians and Armenia: ethnic minority or political leverage?," CES Working Papers, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 11(2), pages 124-142, July.
    11. Saeid Abbasian & Anna Lundberg, 2020. "Between Fire and Ice: Experiences of the Persian Fire Festival in a Nordic Setting," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(24), pages 1-1, December.
    12. Ivlevs, Artjoms & King, Roswitha M., 2014. "Emigration, Remittances and Corruption Experience of Those Staying Behind," IZA Discussion Papers 8521, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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