Critical Realism, assemblages and practices beyond the state: A new framework for analysing global diaspora engagement

Catherine Ruth Craven
In recent decades state-based diaspora engagement institutions have proliferated. Meanwhile, the surge in diaspora engagement initiatives by non-state global governance actors is also on the rise. However, such 'global-ising' of diaspora engagement does not describe a simple 'scaling-up' of policies from the domestic to the supranational level. Rather, it suggests a reconfiguration of policies, actors and spaces by and through which diasporas are now being engaged/governed. No doubt, this calls
more » ... for a reassessment of existing analytical frameworks. This paper makes the case for a new ontological perspective for studying global diaspora governance. It proposes that existing analyses of diaspora governance lack explanatory power for a number of reasons. They either fall into the trap of methodological nationalism, and thus fail to account for the complexities of contemporary global social and political configurations, or, if they do problematise complexity, they do so in a way that depoliticises global governance processes. Instead, this paper argues for a critical realist ontology, which suggests that we think about global diaspora engagement through the concept of the assemblage. Assemblages, this paper argues, allow us to consider global diaspora engagement as complex relations between human and non-human agents whose configurations shape the conditions of possibility for action in a particular circumstance. When paired with Bourdieusian practice theory, the assemblage can also act as the (de-/reterritorialised) field within which practices are hierarchically ordered, thus enabling the study of how political struggles unfold inside specific configurations of global diaspora engagement.
doi:10.25501/soas.00026314 fatcat:7lbgxuh2bve7fm7cizuqtriesq