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The Role of Diasporas in peace, Democracy and Development in the Horn of Africa

Johansson Dahre, Ulf LU (2007) In Research reports in Social Anthropology 2007:1.
Abstract
Introduction: Transnationalism and migration

Ulf Johansson Dahre





The 5th annual Somalia International Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) Conference of the Horn of Africa focused on “The Role of Diasporas in Peace, Democracy and Development”. The conference was held in Lund, Sweden, August 19-20, 2006. The content of this volume reflects some of the views and proceedings presented at the conference.



It is a well known fact that a large portion of the citizens of the countries of the Horn of Africa have left the region for Europe, North America, the Middle East and elsewhere. The aim of the conference was to explore causes and consequences of the Horn of Africa transnationalism and its... (More)
Introduction: Transnationalism and migration

Ulf Johansson Dahre





The 5th annual Somalia International Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) Conference of the Horn of Africa focused on “The Role of Diasporas in Peace, Democracy and Development”. The conference was held in Lund, Sweden, August 19-20, 2006. The content of this volume reflects some of the views and proceedings presented at the conference.



It is a well known fact that a large portion of the citizens of the countries of the Horn of Africa have left the region for Europe, North America, the Middle East and elsewhere. The aim of the conference was to explore causes and consequences of the Horn of Africa transnationalism and its social, economic and politic impact on the countries in the region. Questions posed centred around issues such as the positive and negative aspects of transnationalism, conflicts and the long-term political social, economic and cultural consequences of those connections.



The conference was interdisciplinary including African studies, Anthropology, Human Rights, Sociology, Political Science, and Economic History and views from several NGOs. The report is divided into four parts. The first part deals with general issues in relation to the Horn, such as, human rights, the situation of women, and conflicts among diaspora groups. The second part deals with transnational issues concerning various countries on the Horn of Africa both in home and host countries. The third part deals specifically with Somalia from different perspectives, including the situation on the ground, conflict and reconciliation, media and the transnational Somali communities in the northern U.S.A. The fourth part of the report contains the specific recommendations from the workshops. The report is concluded by professor Arne Ardeberg, proposing the establishment of a Permanent Forum on the Horn of Africa at the University of Lund.



The concepts of transnationalism and transnational social spaces originate from globalization and migration research (Basch et al, 1992). Beside the extension of markets and the intensification of trade and financial flows, globalisation processes are strongly related to cross-border migration. The global networks of people, their motives for migration and its effects on political economic, social and cultural structures form a growing field of research. But transnationalism is not a new social phenomena even if it is sometimes portrayed as such. For comparative reason we can see that the total number of migrants today are about 3 percent of the world population, compared to the situation a hundred years ago when migration flows amounted to 10 percent of the world population (Dicken, 2007:447). Still, in today´s world we can see that the number of people living outside their country of birth or citizenship amount to tens or hundred of millions. In 2005, there were 185 million documented migrants in the world (Dicken, 2007:447). And this is a conservative estimate as much migration is illegal and therefore undocumented. The distances over which migration occurs are enormously varied. It often takes place between neighbouring countries, but the major part of the migration is long-distance or intercontinental. From Africa the biggest migration flows are from Eastern Africa, but there are also considerable movement within and from the Horn of Africa.



One result of the international migration is the creation of transnational communities. These communities are complex networks between their places of origin and places of settlement, which creates what some observers call “transnational social spaces” that are kept together by financial remittances and social affiliations with ethnic ties. These communities play an important role in channelling migrant flows, investment patterns, politics, and creating different forms of business entrepreneurship both in their new countries and in their places of origin. The financial remittances of the transnational communities make an important contribution, not only to families or local communities, but also to the home country´s overall financial position and foreign exchange situation (World Bank, 2005).



Transnationalism therefore focuses on the fact that migrants maintain contact with people and institutions in their places of origin. This has been observed in numerous studies since the 1920s-1930s. However, the early observations tended to focus on how migrants adopted themselves to a new environment or were socially excluded. Studies during the last decades, have put a greater emphasis on how migrants maintain attachments to families, communities, traditions and institutions that are not linked to the state in which they now are living.



Transnationalism is upheld by travel and communication technologies, but is not caused by the technological and transport possibilities as such. The causes of transnationalism can instead be found in changing economic, political and social circumstances both in sending and receiving countries. Migrants have developed political organizations in relation to both sending and receiving countries. Some observers argue that transnationalism represents a new analytic optic which makes visible the scope and flows of persons, goods, information and symbols triggered by an international labour migration.



The growth of studies on transnationalism is linked to globalisation processes. Due to territorial extensions of exchange relation in economic, political, social and cultural systems and the development of a “global network” there are considerable discussions about the conditions of the state. The globalisation discourse about the change of the state is subject to many different arguments. Whether these interpretations are right or misleading, the globalisation discourse tells us a lot about new qualities and quantities of social and cultural relations between actors and places in different states. And even more important, it may tell us a lot of powerful political ideologies that are promoting these relations in correspondence with the organisation of the global market. In this sense globalisation is in line with the European project of modernity, especially if we take into account the specific territoriality of the concept of the nation state and sovereignty as a characteristic element. Looking back to the state formation processes the project of modernity was closely linked to a process that may be called “translocalism”:

…Nations needed states to forge the ´Locals´ into nationals, to melt local dialects into a national language, to replace local rhythms of rites and celebrations with unified national calendars of commemorative festivities (Baumann, 1998).



Though there are differences between the European nation states and the colonial and post-colonial state formations in the Horn of Africa one may argue that the recent growth of academic interest in transnational studies is created and accelerated by the perceptions of limits to the capacity of nation states to organize social relations. Baumann, for instance, realizes that translocalism globalisation processes forge the nationals into a new global order which limits self-regulation in economic and political terms in favour of international regimes and neo-imperial relations. Varieties of this argument are often used as a working hypothesis in the following chapters of this report. However, this kind of arguing makes a presupposition that is far from self-evident. It presupposes that the state has the power to organize and harmonize human collectivities within distinct territories. As we are going to see in the coming articles, that is seldom the case.



Transnationalism if often defined as:

…the processes by which immigrants forge and sustain multi-stranded social relations that link together their societies of origin and settlement. We call these processes transnationalism to emphasize that many immigrants today build social fields that cross geographic, cultural and political borders…An essential element is the multiplicity of involvements that transmigrants sustain in both home and host societies (Basch et. al, 1992:6).



This frequently used quotation leads to at least two interrelated questions: on the one hand the question of involvement in home and host societies, and on the other hand, the question of meaning of border crossing. Migration research has often approached these questions in one or more of the following theoretical models:



1. One early model assumed that people migrate from a homogenous society A (the home country) to another homogenous society B (the host country) in a one-way direction. After arrival processes of acculturation set in, which may lead to assimilation or to a diaspora situation, sometimes or perhaps combined with spatial segregation.



2. Another model, that can be called the transnational model, assumes that the migrants are still present and active in their home societies. Transmigrants are not only influencing the host society but are characterized by economic, social and cultural activities which change the regions of origin in a substantial way. Financial flows as remittances are one of the most discussed indicators of this model.



3. The third model, which extends the second, includes more of global links in order to search for deeper causes of migration processes. Both regions, the home and host societies are linked through different global networks to the world system. This world-system approach is searching for causes and consequences of migration in the never-ending game of world economic and political hegemony. Causes of migration and transnationalism can thus be found in the expansion and contractions of the world-system (Friedman, 2004: 85).



Within this simplified distinction between different theoretical models of the interaction between the home and host countries type 2 and 3 illustrate a migration pattern based on ongoing connections between two or more regions. In this sense, transnationalism is characterized by a multi-local perspective. But this perspective has also problems because it is difficult to find a delimitation of localities. There are ambiguities about borders and boundaries. Boundaries are often seen as dividing lines between discrete spatial units as in the case of the first model. From a more general perspective boundaries are defined by social activities and may be precisely defined or fuzzy, depending on the nature of the social activity. Political boundaries are drawn to delimit the territory of the state and to mark the limits of the state´s claim to jurisdiction and sovereignty. The complexity rises further if we use the term boundary in relation to cultural, economic, linguistic or religious aspects. In most cases clearly demarcated boundaries between these are difficult to define. Against this background we all understand that to define the problems of transnationalism and border-crossing is a quite difficult task. Nevertheless, the participants at the conference all tried to make an effort to sort out the current dilemmas of the Horn of Africa transnationalism.



Trying to analyse the causes and consequences of migration within the concept of transnationalism means to extend the limits of the concepts in various directions. The articles discusses different concepts and themes in an attempt to form understandings of various processes of the Horn of Africa and what kind of social, economic, political and cultural forces that shapes those processes.







References



Basch, Linda, Glick Schiller, Nina & Szanton Blanc, Cristina (1992), ”Transnationalism: A New Analytic Framework for Understanding Migration”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 645, pp. 1-24.



Baumann, Zygmunt, (1998), Globalization: The Human Consequences. London: Polity Press



Dicken, Peter (2007), Global Shift: Mapping the Changing Contours of the World Economy. London: Sage.



Friedman, Jonathan (2004), “Globalization, Transnationalization, and Migration: Ideologies and realities of Global Transformation”. In, Jonathan Friedman & Shalini Randeria (eds.), Worlds on the Move: Globalization, Migration and Cultural Security. London: I.B. Taurus, pp. 63-88.



Vertovec, Steven (2001), “Transnationalism and Identity”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 573-582.



World Bank (2005), World Development Report. Washington D.C.: World Bank. (Less)
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socialantropologi, Peace, Democracy, Development, Human Rights, Transnationalism, Migration, Horn of Africa, social anthropology, demokrati
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Research reports in Social Anthropology
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2007:1
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216 pages
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Department of Social Anthropology, Lund University
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@misc{1386c7de-27b3-4626-9ce7-62b79609d179,
  abstract     = {Introduction: Transnationalism and migration<br/><br>
Ulf Johansson Dahre<br/><br>
<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The 5th annual Somalia International Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) Conference of the Horn of Africa focused on “The Role of Diasporas in Peace, Democracy and Development”. The conference was held in Lund, Sweden, August 19-20, 2006. The content of this volume reflects some of the views and proceedings presented at the conference.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
It is a well known fact that a large portion of the citizens of the countries of the Horn of Africa have left the region for Europe, North America, the Middle East and elsewhere. The aim of the conference was to explore causes and consequences of the Horn of Africa transnationalism and its social, economic and politic impact on the countries in the region. Questions posed centred around issues such as the positive and negative aspects of transnationalism, conflicts and the long-term political social, economic and cultural consequences of those connections. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
The conference was interdisciplinary including African studies, Anthropology, Human Rights, Sociology, Political Science, and Economic History and views from several NGOs. The report is divided into four parts. The first part deals with general issues in relation to the Horn, such as, human rights, the situation of women, and conflicts among diaspora groups. The second part deals with transnational issues concerning various countries on the Horn of Africa both in home and host countries. The third part deals specifically with Somalia from different perspectives, including the situation on the ground, conflict and reconciliation, media and the transnational Somali communities in the northern U.S.A. The fourth part of the report contains the specific recommendations from the workshops. The report is concluded by professor Arne Ardeberg, proposing the establishment of a Permanent Forum on the Horn of Africa at the University of Lund.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The concepts of transnationalism and transnational social spaces originate from globalization and migration research (Basch et al, 1992). Beside the extension of markets and the intensification of trade and financial flows, globalisation processes are strongly related to cross-border migration. The global networks of people, their motives for migration and its effects on political economic, social and cultural structures form a growing field of research. But transnationalism is not a new social phenomena even if it is sometimes portrayed as such. For comparative reason we can see that the total number of migrants today are about 3 percent of the world population, compared to the situation a hundred years ago when migration flows amounted to 10 percent of the world population (Dicken, 2007:447). Still, in today´s world we can see that the number of people living outside their country of birth or citizenship amount to tens or hundred of millions. In 2005, there were 185 million documented migrants in the world (Dicken, 2007:447). And this is a conservative estimate as much migration is illegal and therefore undocumented. The distances over which migration occurs are enormously varied. It often takes place between neighbouring countries, but the major part of the migration is long-distance or intercontinental. From Africa the biggest migration flows are from Eastern Africa, but there are also considerable movement within and from the Horn of Africa. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
One result of the international migration is the creation of transnational communities. These communities are complex networks between their places of origin and places of settlement, which creates what some observers call “transnational social spaces” that are kept together by financial remittances and social affiliations with ethnic ties. These communities play an important role in channelling migrant flows, investment patterns, politics, and creating different forms of business entrepreneurship both in their new countries and in their places of origin. The financial remittances of the transnational communities make an important contribution, not only to families or local communities, but also to the home country´s overall financial position and foreign exchange situation (World Bank, 2005). <br/><br>
<br/><br>
Transnationalism therefore focuses on the fact that migrants maintain contact with people and institutions in their places of origin. This has been observed in numerous studies since the 1920s-1930s. However, the early observations tended to focus on how migrants adopted themselves to a new environment or were socially excluded. Studies during the last decades, have put a greater emphasis on how migrants maintain attachments to families, communities, traditions and institutions that are not linked to the state in which they now are living. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
Transnationalism is upheld by travel and communication technologies, but is not caused by the technological and transport possibilities as such. The causes of transnationalism can instead be found in changing economic, political and social circumstances both in sending and receiving countries. Migrants have developed political organizations in relation to both sending and receiving countries. Some observers argue that transnationalism represents a new analytic optic which makes visible the scope and flows of persons, goods, information and symbols triggered by an international labour migration. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
The growth of studies on transnationalism is linked to globalisation processes. Due to territorial extensions of exchange relation in economic, political, social and cultural systems and the development of a “global network” there are considerable discussions about the conditions of the state. The globalisation discourse about the change of the state is subject to many different arguments. Whether these interpretations are right or misleading, the globalisation discourse tells us a lot about new qualities and quantities of social and cultural relations between actors and places in different states. And even more important, it may tell us a lot of powerful political ideologies that are promoting these relations in correspondence with the organisation of the global market. In this sense globalisation is in line with the European project of modernity, especially if we take into account the specific territoriality of the concept of the nation state and sovereignty as a characteristic element. Looking back to the state formation processes the project of modernity was closely linked to a process that may be called “translocalism”:<br/><br>
…Nations needed states to forge the ´Locals´ into nationals, to melt local dialects into a national language, to replace local rhythms of rites and celebrations with unified national calendars of commemorative festivities (Baumann, 1998).<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Though there are differences between the European nation states and the colonial and post-colonial state formations in the Horn of Africa one may argue that the recent growth of academic interest in transnational studies is created and accelerated by the perceptions of limits to the capacity of nation states to organize social relations. Baumann, for instance, realizes that translocalism globalisation processes forge the nationals into a new global order which limits self-regulation in economic and political terms in favour of international regimes and neo-imperial relations. Varieties of this argument are often used as a working hypothesis in the following chapters of this report. However, this kind of arguing makes a presupposition that is far from self-evident. It presupposes that the state has the power to organize and harmonize human collectivities within distinct territories. As we are going to see in the coming articles, that is seldom the case.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Transnationalism if often defined as:<br/><br>
…the processes by which immigrants forge and sustain multi-stranded social relations that link together their societies of origin and settlement. We call these processes transnationalism to emphasize that many immigrants today build social fields that cross geographic, cultural and political borders…An essential element is the multiplicity of involvements that transmigrants sustain in both home and host societies (Basch et. al, 1992:6).<br/><br>
<br/><br>
This frequently used quotation leads to at least two interrelated questions: on the one hand the question of involvement in home and host societies, and on the other hand, the question of meaning of border crossing. Migration research has often approached these questions in one or more of the following theoretical models:<br/><br>
<br/><br>
1. One early model assumed that people migrate from a homogenous society A (the home country) to another homogenous society B (the host country) in a one-way direction. After arrival processes of acculturation set in, which may lead to assimilation or to a diaspora situation, sometimes or perhaps combined with spatial segregation.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
2. Another model, that can be called the transnational model, assumes that the migrants are still present and active in their home societies. Transmigrants are not only influencing the host society but are characterized by economic, social and cultural activities which change the regions of origin in a substantial way. Financial flows as remittances are one of the most discussed indicators of this model. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
3. The third model, which extends the second, includes more of global links in order to search for deeper causes of migration processes. Both regions, the home and host societies are linked through different global networks to the world system. This world-system approach is searching for causes and consequences of migration in the never-ending game of world economic and political hegemony. Causes of migration and transnationalism can thus be found in the expansion and contractions of the world-system (Friedman, 2004: 85). <br/><br>
<br/><br>
Within this simplified distinction between different theoretical models of the interaction between the home and host countries type 2 and 3 illustrate a migration pattern based on ongoing connections between two or more regions. In this sense, transnationalism is characterized by a multi-local perspective. But this perspective has also problems because it is difficult to find a delimitation of localities. There are ambiguities about borders and boundaries. Boundaries are often seen as dividing lines between discrete spatial units as in the case of the first model. From a more general perspective boundaries are defined by social activities and may be precisely defined or fuzzy, depending on the nature of the social activity. Political boundaries are drawn to delimit the territory of the state and to mark the limits of the state´s claim to jurisdiction and sovereignty. The complexity rises further if we use the term boundary in relation to cultural, economic, linguistic or religious aspects. In most cases clearly demarcated boundaries between these are difficult to define. Against this background we all understand that to define the problems of transnationalism and border-crossing is a quite difficult task. Nevertheless, the participants at the conference all tried to make an effort to sort out the current dilemmas of the Horn of Africa transnationalism.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Trying to analyse the causes and consequences of migration within the concept of transnationalism means to extend the limits of the concepts in various directions. The articles discusses different concepts and themes in an attempt to form understandings of various processes of the Horn of Africa and what kind of social, economic, political and cultural forces that shapes those processes. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
<br/><br>
<br/><br>
References<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Basch, Linda, Glick Schiller, Nina &amp; Szanton Blanc, Cristina (1992), ”Transnationalism: A New Analytic Framework for Understanding Migration”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 645, pp. 1-24.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Baumann, Zygmunt, (1998), Globalization: The Human Consequences. London: Polity Press<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Dicken, Peter (2007), Global Shift: Mapping the Changing Contours of the World Economy. London: Sage.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Friedman, Jonathan (2004), “Globalization, Transnationalization, and Migration: Ideologies and realities of Global Transformation”. In, Jonathan Friedman &amp; Shalini Randeria (eds.), Worlds on the Move: Globalization, Migration and Cultural Security. London: I.B. Taurus, pp. 63-88. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
Vertovec, Steven (2001), “Transnationalism and Identity”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 573-582.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
World Bank (2005), World Development Report. Washington D.C.: World Bank.},
  author       = {Johansson Dahre, Ulf},
  isbn         = {91-7267-237-4},
  keyword      = {socialantropologi,Peace,Democracy,Development,Human Rights,Transnationalism,Migration,Horn of Africa,social anthropology,demokrati},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {216},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x96c89e8)},
  series       = {Research reports in Social Anthropology},
  title        = {The Role of Diasporas in peace, Democracy and Development in the Horn of Africa},
  volume       = {2007:1},
  year         = {2007},
}