DSA2016: Politics in Development
We invite papers on: how digitalization has transformed imagined communities into virtual communities; how states utilize digital tools to achieve political goals, with a focus on development; how digitalization influences the sense of identity of diasporas and their bonds to country of origin.
Diasporas have traditionally been conceived as imagined communities that maintain relatively detached ties with their countries of origin. This is about to change as a result of the global proliferation of Information and Communication Technologies. Digital tools now enable diasporas to remain in continuous contact with their countries of origin. Likewise, governments use digital tools to strengthen political ties with global diasporas. Thus, through the digital world these imagined communities have transformed into virtual communities.
The transition from imagined communities to virtual ones is of great relevance to development studies. States, on their part, use digital tools in order cement their relations with virtual diasporas, incorporate them in national advocacy campaigns and seek their assistance in creating political and financial ties with foreign countries. Diasporas, on their parts, may use digital tools in order to maintain a sense of national identity, foster relations with other expats and send remittances to their country of origin.
The panel aims to explore the ways in which digitalization has impacted the politics of diasporas. We invite theoretically informed and policy relevant papers focusing on three major themes. The first is a conceptual theme that examines on how digitalization has transformed imagined communities into virtual communities. The second focuses on the nation state and how it utilizes digital tools, and virtual communities, to achieve political goals, with a focus on development. The final theme focuses on how digitalization influences the sense of identity of diasporas and their bonds to their country of origin.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
On diplomats and diasporas: the use and abuse of digital technology in world society
Taking stock of digital diplomacy studies and applying what we have learned to a new realm: diaspora politics.
Although new technologies play a significant role in world society and the practice of international politics, they have traditionally received surprisingly little attention by International Relations scholars. Many have emphasized this shortcoming, but it has only been recently that systematic inquiry into the nature and effects of new technologies, such as the rise of digital, have begun to appear on the IR landscape. We are now at the point, however, where such new developments can be surveyed, assessed and critiqued, important ideas synthesized, and key issues raised for future scholarship. This paper analyzes new developments in the area of digital diplomacy, with two particular areas of emphasis: 1) the role of social media among diplomats and foreign ministries; and, 2) the use of social media and digital tools in diaspora politics, both in terms of organizing diaspora groups as well as cultivating relationships between diasporas and home governments. Taken together, social media use between and amongst diplomats and diasporas represent the most intriguing and promising two research areas for future scholarship in the field of digital diplomacy.
The best of times, the worst of times: how ICTs influence migration and diaspora diplomacy
ICTs may have made the process of migration easier. This paper will analyze how such a reality impacts the practice of diaspora diplomacy at the embassy level.
The decision to migrate is regarded as a difficult one as it entails separating from one's family, culture and language. Moreover, migrants are often subject to a decline in their social status. However, the global spread of ICTs may have had a dramatic impact on the process of migration. Studies suggest that SNS enable migrants to remain connected to their country of origin. Notably, cellular and internet applications enable migrants to stay in close and continuous contact with family members (e.g., WhatsApp, Skype). Finally, cellular applications enable migrants to gather valuable information on their new host country and create close ties with other migrants. Thus, it's possible that migrating to another country is easier than it once was. These changes may have a dramatic, and contradictory, impact on embassies practicing diaspora diplomacy. If migration has become easier, embassies may soon find themselves servicing larger diasporas. On the other hand, larger diasporas may be utilized by embassies in order to enhance ties between countries. Lastly, the use of ICTs by migrants to create online networks of information exchange (e.g., employment opportunities) and social capital may reduce reliance on embassies. Thus, embassies may need to join migrant social networks in order to service and utilize diasporic communities. This paper will analyze the influence ICTs have had on migrants and on embassies practicing diaspora diplomacy. In addition, it will explore how embassies may employ SNS to maintain their roles as interlockers of diasporic communities and their countries of origin.
From imagined communities to virtual communities: how African embassies utilize Facebook for diaspora diplomacy
Diaspora engagement, is crucial for various national governments. In an era of social media proliferation, this study investigates how African embassies employ Facebook as a means of dialogic engagement and the formation of virtual, rather than imagined, diasporic communities.
Diasporic communities may have previously been conceptualized as imagined communities in the sense that while members shared a culture, language and national identity such communities were geographically dispersed and too large to allow ties between all members. While embassies have traditionally attempted to maintain links between diasporic communities and their countries of origin, the size and geographic dispersal of diasporas, alongside limited embassy resources, may have impeded such attempts. However, the migration of both embassies and diasporas to Facebook may have a substantial impact on the practice of diaspora diplomacy. Embassies may utilize Facebook to strengthen their ties with diasporic communities, maintain links between diasporas and their country of origin and create stronger bonds between members of a diasporic community. Despite the potential use of Facebook in diaspora diplomacy, few studies have investigated this area of digital diplomacy. The study aims to address this fundamental gap by analyzing the Facebook activity of nine African embassies (three Kenyan embassies, three Ethiopian embassies and three Ugandan embassies). Thematic analysis will be employed in order to identify the content African embassies share with their diasporic communities as a means of dispensing embassy communication goals. In addition, content analysis will be employed to analyze comments posted by embassy Facebook followers as a means of identifying diasporic communities' needs. Finally, levels of online engagement between embassies and their Facebook followers will be analyzed in order to identify the use of SNS for dialogic engagement and the formation of virtual, rather than imagined, diasporic communities.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.