In our increasingly interconnected and globalized world more and more people wonder how international migration transforms receiving societies, sending states and migrants themselves. Media pundits, experts and scholars no longer view migrant cultures as entrapped and frozen in the countries of destination. Instead they emphasize transnational experiences of moving populations. Migrants actively shape their lives, participate in global cultural change and stay involved “here and there.” Exactly for this reason the course adopts a diaspora lens. Originally, the term diaspora referred to the ancient Jewish, Greek and Armenian dispersions – the reputed “classical diasporas.” In recent decades the meaning of “diaspora” has been expanded to include migrant, refugee and émigré populations as groups defined primarily in relation to their historic “homelands.”
Therefore, in the course we will explore to what extent the archetypical diasporas can serve as a useful analytical framework for understanding migrations, displacements and resettlements of modern times. On the one hand, we will review key theories of international migration, inquire into the issues of contemporary border control, immigration policy and citizenship, and assess how migrants’ characteristics and host country conditions affect integration and international involvement. On the other hand, we will closely look at how diaspora communities and organizations function in receiving societies and across borders. The course covers long-distance politics, nationalism, lobbying, investment, tourism and family experiences among trading, victim, cultural and other diasporic groups. Its geographic focus is global. The course’s rich conceptual toolkit will be illustrated with cases from Europe, Russia, North America and Southeast Asia.