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Two-Level Games are what nations make of them? Analyzing diaspora politics at times of crisis

Svenja Gertheiss
Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
Svenja Gertheiss
Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
Open Panel

Abstract

At an age when nation states started to lose their hegemonic position in International Relations research, scholarly interest rediscovered a phenomenon actually pre-dating the nation state itself: diasporas. Yet, ‘classical’ IR theory can serve as tool box for conceptualizing the triangular transnational power and collective identity relations of diaspora, home and host land. This paper proposes such a model for analyzing diaspora politics settled in the traditions of both constructivism and liberalism. Constructivism offers insights how different or similar conceptions of collective identity can alienate or align diaspora and homeland or host country by providing the respective normative frames, like ideological or religious values or national myths. Liberal IR theory helps to conceptualize diasporic ways and means of political influence by treating diasporas as (semi-)domestic actors who are part of the nation, but commonly have only limited, if any, formal access to state institutions. Taking this twofold theoretical perspective as a starting point, the paper continues by a refinement of the analytic model, focusing on diasporas as actors in violent (ethnic) conflicts. Here conceptions of collective (and in particular national) identity, self-determination, and state sovereignty get challenged from within the homeland and the exile community, calling into question previous forms of state-society relations. Therefore, the model is amended by theoretical inputs taken from peace and conflict studies. Although the paper has a clear theoretical focus, a final section also attempts a first application of the model to an analysis of the Palestinian and Jewish/Israeli cases.