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The ‘Diaspora option’, migration and the changing political economy of development

Influenced by the recognition of the social and economic value of migrant exchanges, the shift to a Post-Washington Consensus, and the rise of India and China as emerging economies – the ‘Diaspora option’ is becoming a significant component of the development strategies of countries with large migrant populations across Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Eastern Europe.

In this paper we examine the political economy within which the Diaspora option has emerged and the broader implications of the discursive and material ways that migrants are being incorporated as professionalized partners in development.

Drawing on a case study of the World Bank’s Africa Diaspora Program we examine the underlying assumptions, ideologies and silences upon which this policy option rests. We conclude that the emerging Diaspora option should be approached more critically because the current celebration of these strategies obscures the selective and narrow neoliberal orientation; the assumptions that they make about the nature of diasporic engagement, and their increasing reliance on migrant populations to shoulder the investment risks associated with social transformation. (Read More)