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The study of migration is heavily focused on the movement of migration itself. But groups do not simply immigrate, they also emigrate, leaving behind their place of birth, and constituting diasporas, understood as groups whose origin lies in a separate geographic locale. What happens one, two, or more generations later with national or ethnic groups that continue to have legal links with their country of origin? What are the implications of being from both “here” and “there” legally? How should and have states of origins reacted to solicitations from their diasporas and, in turn, how have they triggered the constitution of diasporas which may have had little initial connection to their state of origin? What of the "host state" and the way it deals with the fact that some of its citizens continue to maintain significant links to another sovereign? What specific human rights are relevant to the diasporic experience? And how might we evaluate the role of diasporas themselves as socio-legal actors and perhaps even legal subjects?
This subject will seek to explore the many dimensions of diasporas' evolving legal existence, from encouraging further migration to exercising voting rights; from paying taxes in several countries to serving in different militaries; from funding opposition movements to supporting governments, etc. It will explore some of the dilemmas of multiple citizenship as well as the ways in which diasporas draw on the laws of different countries for maximum effect. It will suggest that the diasporic experience may be emblematic of what the law is becoming globally, a law that is less tied to sovereigns and increasingly transnational; a law that mixes elements of the public and the private. The bigger question raised in the subject is what the impact of human mobility is on the legal project, particularly in its state variant, and how diasporas might help us think through the question of legal pluralism.
Principal topics will include:
- How migration and migration law shape the constitution of diasporas
- How the emergence of diasporas has been encouraged by their countries of origin
- Challenges created by multiple and fragmented citizenship
- The question of “return migration” and continued mobility as a motif in diasporic existence
- The multiplicity of legal orders involved in the regulation of diasporas
- Security concerns of and about diasporas and the question of sovereign protection by the state of origin
- Problems of governance of diasporas by their country of origin, including as they relate to voting, taxation and military service
- Private law concerns of diasporas notably relating to marriage and inheritance
- The position of the host state in relation to organized diasporas and the concern with interference in sovereign affairs
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have developed a concept of how diasporas operate as legal actors globally
- Be aware of the growing literature on diasporas in the social sciences and humanities and understand how it can inform the study of the law
- Be able to relate this knowledge to the study of particular diasporas
Last updated: 10 December 2021