The Domestic Abroad: Diasporas in International Relations

The Domestic Abroad: Diasporas in International Relations

The Domestic Abroad: Diasporas in International Relations

The Domestic Abroad: Diasporas in International Relations

Synopsis

In the past few decades, and across disparate geographical contexts, states have adopted policies and initiatives aimed at institutionalizing relationships with "their" diasporas. These practices, which range from creating new ministries to granting dual citizenship, are aimed at integrating diasporas as part of a larger "global" nation that is connected to, and has claims on the institutional structures of the home state. Although links, both formal and informal, between diasporas and their presumptive homelands have existed in the past, the recent developments constitute a far more widespread and qualitatively different phenomenon. In this book, Latha Varadarajan theorizes this novel and largely overlooked trend by introducing the concept of the "domestic abroad." Varadarajan demonstrates that the remapping of the imagined boundaries of the nation, the visible surface of the phenomenon, is intrinsically connected to the political-economic transformation of the state that is typically characterized as "neoliberalism." The domestic abroad must therefore be understood as the product of two simultaneous, on-going processes: the diasporic re-imagining of the nation and the neoliberal restructuring of the state. The argument unfolds through a historically nuanced study of the production of the domestic abroad in India. The book traces the complex history and explains the political logic of the remarkable transition from the Indian state's guarded indifference toward its diaspora in the period after independence, to its current celebrations of the "global Indian nation." In doing so, The Domestic Abroad reveals the manner in which the boundaries of the nation and the extent of the authority of the state, in India and elsewhere, are dynamically shaped by the development of capitalist social relations on both global and national scales.

Excerpt

In July 2000, Vicente Fox Quesada, the leader of the opposition pan (Party for National Action) won a historic presidential election in Mexico. While numerous commentators hailed his victory as a triumph of democracy in Mexico and the beginning of a new political chapter, only a few took notice of Fox’s preelection claims that he intended to “govern on behalf of 118 million Mexicans.” Declarations by political candidates regarding their intent to govern “for the people” are, of course, hardly noteworthy. What made Fox’s declaration striking was that the population of Mexico during his election was around 100 million. the other 18 million people on whose behalf Fox intended to govern were actually those of Mexican origin living outside the territories of Mexico, primarily in the United States.

Fox’s declaration that “our beloved migrants, our heroic immigrants” were an intrinsic part of the Mexican nation marked a distinct change from the rhetoric of the past, wherein Mexican migrants had been denigrated as pochos (overly anglicized or denationalized Mexicans) who had forsaken their language and culture for the “illusory blandishment of life in the us.” Soon after the inauguration, in a symbolically potent first act as the president of Mexico, Fox honored 200 Mexican immigrants and U.S.-born Mexican Americans, hailing them as shining examples of what Mexicans are capable of achieving when provided with the right opportunity. Far from being denationalized, Mexicans living abroad were presented as embodying a spirit of entrepreneurship and success that needed to be emulated by the rest of Mexico.

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