Nations Abroad: Diaspora Politics and International Relations in the Former Soviet Union

Nations Abroad: Diaspora Politics and International Relations in the Former Soviet Union

Nations Abroad: Diaspora Politics and International Relations in the Former Soviet Union

Nations Abroad: Diaspora Politics and International Relations in the Former Soviet Union

Synopsis

Based on field research by a team of post-Soviet specialists, this is a comparative study of the complexities of trans-border ethnic groups and state-building in the former USSR.

Excerpt

Ethnic groups have long played an important role in international politics. Whether as advocates of specific policies affecting their ethnic homelands or as objects of "pan" movements aimed at the unification of all members of a distinct ethnic community within a single state, these populations have had an influence on the formulation of foreign policy, the actions of political parties at home and abroad, and the evolution of interstate relations in the spheres of trade, aid, and security cooperation. The 1980s and 1990s, though, have seen a remarkable increase both in the awareness of trans-border ethnic groups as independent foreign policy actors, as well as the demonstrable importance of these groups in interstate relations. India's failed intervention in Sri Lanka in 1987 was fueled by calls from the large Tamil population in southern India to aid ethnic Tamils in their battles with the government in Colombo. The vocal and well-organized Cuban community in the United States played a major role in pressing the U.S. Congress to pass the controversial "Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996," or Helms-Burton Law, which sought to restrict external investment in Cuba. Similar points could be made about Irish-Americans and the conflict in Northern Ireland, American Jews and the peace process in Israel and the Occupied Territories, the overseas Chinese and economic development in the Asia-Pacific region, and east European diaspora communities in Europe and North America and their impact on debates over the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In many regions, the traditional ethnic homelands--or "kin-states"--of such groups have begun to take a more active role in cultivating a sense of community with co-ethnic populations living in foreign "host-states." Kin- states can reach out to their ethnic diasporas by sponsoring sports teams . . .

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