Nationalism, homeland and diaspora – University of Copenhagen

Nationalism, homeland and diaspora

The focus on the role of nationalism in the diaspora, diaspora nationalism, is timely. Diaspora structures encourage particular bonds, relationships, associations and organizations, and networks based on perceptions of similarity, shared history, religion, and language among migrant groups that maintain close links to a homeland after having settled elsewhere. Diasporic groups are upheld along a continuum of loyalties of those who wish to or are forced to maintain ties, those escaping the bonds into which they were born or those never fully integrating or wishing to be part of multiple groups. In either case, a focus on diasporic communities is key to understanding the intricate mechanisms of nationalism in diaspora settlements (Castles and Miller 2003; Jordan and Düvell 2003; Portes 1995). Nationalism is closely linked to ’homing desires’, and the desire for home rather than the desire to return home (Brah 1996; Elgenius 2017). As such it is not necessarily uniting and approached with diverging interests in mind on the basis of nationality, ethnicity and religion, gender or class. Yet, the social relationships generate resources, and social capital (Heath & Demireva 2014; Putnam 2000) promises to provide a safety net from marginalization (Gittel and Vidal 1998 and others), a platform for integration, and a buffer from discrimination.

Comparative and empirical research on diaspora nationalism is needed. A comparative approach will highlight dimensions of diasporic nationalism in Europe e.g. with reference to ethnic and civic nationalism, transnationalism and relationship to established states, formed nations or forming nations-to-be, colonial and historic circumstances and injustices, or, 'right-wing' and 'left-wing' nationalism. A mixed methods approach will combine qualitative work with the analyses of existing quantitative data to allow for analysis of diaspora nationalism, its forms and mechanisms, and implications for integration.

Suggested PhD/postdoc projects

Suitable PhD projects include the exploration of diaspora organizations, with reference to implications of different forms of social capital, ethnic bonding and ethnic bridging for integration. Postdoctoral projects would undertake comparative research on diaspora nationalism with reference to the increasingly acknowledged integrative potential of diasporic civil society organizations for e.g. socio-political or labour-market integration. Other options, for postdoc or PhD projects, include the focus on the rise of radical right wing sympathisers within diaspora communities and the implications of this.

Responsible researcher

Gabriella Elgenius is associate professor of Sociology at the University of Gothenburg and Associate Member at the University of Oxford. Her research in political sociology focuses on nationalism, the radical right, diaspora and integration. Related publications include Symbols of Nations and Nationalism (Palgrave 2011), National Museums and Nation-building in Europe (edited with Peter Aronsson, Routledge 2015), and on the Polish Diaspora and Civil Society (Civil Society Revisited, Berghahn Books 2017; Social Integration, the British Academy 2017), nationalism theory in Writing the History of Nationalism (Bloomsbury Publishing 2018) and ethno-nationalism and the radical right (with Jens Rydgren, Sociologisk Forskning 2017, European Societies 2018).