Working Group Migration & Diaspora

Team: Anton Escher and Marie Karner

Globalization comes along with the increasing mechanization of communication as well as the growing physical mobility of people. Not only persons, but also practices, signs and symbols are in constant motion and circulation across national borders. Modern information and communication technologies (ICT) therefore support the formation of new social orders such as diaspora communities or other forms of global communities crossing national boundaries and existing transverse to the paradigm of the nation state. ICTs change the social life of members of global communities fundamentally.

The working group "Migration & Diaspora" focuses on the theoretical concepts of diaspora, transnational migration, global community, mobility and the new ICTs. Diaspora is understood as a global community, whose members are transnationally connected by close emotional ties. The relation among its members is based on a collectively constructed origin. Thus we focus its analysis on diaspora communities from Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza as well as their internal relations and their integration into national societies. These communities are off special interest because of their long lasting global networks. Since the middle of the 19th century there have been ongoing migration processes from the Middle East. As members of communities from these regions today live in almost every part of the world, it is a consequence that the working group has to carry out its empirical work worldwide.

Theoretical goals
A narrow definition of the inflationary used term diaspora is to be developed. Thereby the differences and similarities with the concepts of transnational migration and global community are accentuated.

We check new concepts of various disciplines in the field of ​​migration, mobility, culture and community for their compatibility with the term diaspora. Referring to this context, concepts from Communication Sciences seems to be of special relevance.

Empirical and methodological goals
We search to elaborate new methods for the research and analyses of the interactions/ interplay between diaspora communities and ICTs.

To distinguish various diaspora communities new methods and criteria are acquired which do not use the predefined categories such as nationality or ethnicity as reference structures. The mechanisms of the formation, the development, the reproduction and the dissolution of diaspora communities will be examined.

Societal goals
We investigate the interactions between members of diaspora communities, the nation state and national societies. Both positive and negative effects of these interdependencies will be identified as well as options for a constructive coexistence.