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Globalization and migration in the contemporary world order: an insight into
the postnational condition and the diasporas
Article in Social Identities · September 2017
DOI: 10.1080/13504630.2017.1376283
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Suraj Kumar Saw
Central University of Jharkhand
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Globalization and Migration in the Contemporary World Order: An Insight into the
Postnational Condition and the Diasporas
Suraj Kumar Saw
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in
Social Identities on 17 September 2017, available online:
In the new millennium, nations and nationalism persevere despite scholarship that has
both anticipated and declared their demise. Globalization, which brings flow of capital,
goods, ideas, people and technology, has tremendous undeniable impact on every sphere of
the contemporary world. The growing connectivity amongst the nation-states at physical,
imaginative and virtual levels facilitates transnational networks that produce new types of
migrants who do not respect national borders. The diaspora communities today are no longer
confined in the homeland/hostland binary. The globalized economy, technology and the
world society provide enough space for those with hyphenated identities to survive as a
connecting link not only with the homeland but also with other diasporic nodes with common
origin and cultural/ethnic background. Thus, a new diaspora is taking shape which is highly
mobile and interconnected. Viewed in this perspective, this paper aims to explore the
changing configurations of diasporic identities in the context of much eulogized postnational
condition engendered by increasing transnational activities that defies the stringent idea of
nation and its state’s territorial boundaries questioning the very viability of nation-states in
the present era of globalization.
Keywords: nation-state, globalization, transnationalism, postnational, diaspora
Page 1 of 46
Globalization and Migration in the Contemporary World Order: An Insight into the
Postnational Condition and the Diasporas
The contemporary global socio-economic and geopolitical patterns facilitate
transnational activities across the borders of nation-states. Population of one nation is no
more leading its life in isolation. The policy of one nation is not restricted to its own
territorially bound citizens but rather to the population overseas living in the diaspora. The
term diaspora has acquired a wider meaning deterring from previously accorded religious
sense of Jewish dispersion during the Babylonian captivity in 586 BCE. Diasporas are
communities dispersed from their homeland due to forced or voluntary migrations and whose
settlement in the land of host nation is marked with substantial durability transmitting coethnic identification. The question is why such proliferation of meaning of the word diaspora
that once described Jewish, Greek, and Armenian dispersion? If we look at the history of
movements of mankind it has been marked with dislocation of population due to myriad
reasons that include invasions and genocide, slavery, indenture labour, trade and business,
and economic and catastrophic famine. This created diasporic population throughout the
world. But it is due to the advent of globalization that the movement across borders of one
nation-state to one or more nation-states has turned out to be rampant. Therefore, in the era of
globalization the connectedness of various diasporic populations has made movement
overseas a very common phenomenon coupled with highly advanced technology. Hence, the
term diaspora has acquired an all-purpose meaning for any migrating population (Tölölyan
1991; Cohen 1997; Brubaker 2005).
The geopolitical borders exist but their sustainability in the contemporary globalized
world is less feasible due to the flows of global capital, movement of peoples, technology,
Page 2 of 46
goods, ideas and information. The (inter)connectedness of migrating peoples living in various
diasporic nodes of settlement in the land of host nations has rendered the national boundaries
redundant. Thus, without stringent national borders the distance between homeland and
hostland diminishes. The concept of “international” involves nation-states and interaction
among national governments. But today it is no longer the scenario. There are other non-state
actors like transnational corporations, intergovernmental organizations, the United Nations,
and the NGOs working for women, queers, peace and environment. Moreover, the world
politics is highly influenced by the process of globalization which undervalues the traditional
nation-state (b)order leading to global disorder (Suter 2003). Under such circumstances,
when the boundaries are turning out to be porous the transformation of the diaspora
population spread all over the world into a transnational or postnational subject is inevitable.
This may lead to the emergence of what I propose to call ‘neo-diaspora’ which works more at
transnational and trans-state level rather than international level. The classic notion of nationstate has been challenged due to the increasing cultural and economic flows in the
contemporary global world order that shifts in the nature of communication and information
technologies that collectively have been called the ‘informational revolution’. This paper
seeks to trace the changing facets of diasporic being and consciousness heralded by
contemporary ‘postnational’, transborder and transnational perspectives and the idea of
constantly shifting home in a mobile and networked world.
The aforesaid fact that the concept of diaspora has acquired a broad semantic field
now consists of various groups such as political refugees, immigrants, guest workers, asylum
seekers and ethnic groups (Brubaker 2005; Cohen 1997; Povrzanović Frykman 2001; Sheffer
1996, 2003; Shuval 2000). Diaspora does stand for dispersion and has always been related to
dispersed people. Since the early 1980s, the notion of diaspora has broadened due to three
new expressions viz. postmodernism, globalisation and transnationalism. The postmodern
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thought places paradoxical identity, the non-centre, and hybridity in defining diasporas. The
diaspora experience is to be seen not by purity of identity but by the recognition of
heterogeneous and diversified conception of identity sustained by difference; hybridity (Hall
1990). The “diasporic idea” allows one to go beyond the simplistic view of certain
oppositions (continuity/rupture, centre/periphery) to grasp the complex co-presence of the
Same and the Other, the local and the global (Gilroy 1994). Globalisation highlighted the
importance of flows, especially of information and culture, facilitating interaction between
global and the local transforming the diaspora experience like never before because of the
network structure of diasporas (Robertson 1992). The “culture of flows” produces spaces of
“in-betweeness” characterised by global mobility that entails diaspora as “a travelling term,
in changing global conditions” which intertwines the concepts of “root” and “route” (Clifford
1994: 302). Diasporas are “deployed in transnational networks built from multiple
attachments, and they encode practices of accommodation with, as well as resistance to, host
countries and their norms” (ibid 307). Today, diaspora functions as an interface between
nation-states and globalization engrossing ethnic groups whose diasporic existence reflects a
sense of belonging to evolving transnational networks that connect not only the land of origin
with society of residence but cross the border of other nation-states (Glick Schiller et al.
1995; Vertovec & Cohen 1999). Moreover, diaspora can pose a challenge to the meaning of
citizenship in nations of settlement and may cause it to transform (Joppke 1999).
Accordingly, the paper explores the reoriented diasporic existence and experience in the
wake of transformation of nation-state and the dissociation of citizenship from nationhood.
Also, the trajectory of the role of the diasporic communities in the host and home societies is
traced concurrently with the evolving conditions and renditions of nation-states through
The Early Modern Nation-State and diaspora
Page 4 of 46
The emergence of nation-states lies in the historical idea in the West from tradition of
political thought. Since the fall of the Roman Empire or, rather, since the disintegration of
Charlemagne's empire, western Europe has seemed to us to be divided into nations (Renan 8).
A particular nation/nation-state/country has been either a receiver or sender of migrant
populations since the origin of nation-state which was territorially demarcated for certain
community of people who share identical ethnic/cultural background. Mostly it is argued that
nationalism originated as an ideal, and a political idea, with the American and French
Revolutions in 1770s and the formation of the modern state together with older forms of
social organizations like feudalism. The era before globalization, the old world order, was a
nation-state based formulation in which the geographically marked territory was absolute and
sacrosanct. The dispersion of people in the 19th and early 20th century occurred due to slave
trade, ethnic cleansing and indenture labour as was the case with Africans, Armenians and
Indians. Those days the migration was unidirectional – from home to the land of settlement –
and relentlessly led to assimilation in a new environment (Brubaker 2005). Due to the lack of
advanced transportation and communication system the frequency of movement towards the
land of residence/homeland was rare. Once the migrants reached the forcefully destined land,
or the British colonies so to say, they had no other alternative ways to disentangle themselves
from the onslaught of oppression and the spatiotemporal restraints. This led to form a huge
diasporic population of Africans, Armenians, Indians, Irish in not only such parts of the
world as America, Europe, Africa, Caribbean islands but also everywhere else in the world.
Later, the abolition of serfdom and the dissolution of earlier forms of social organizations like
feudalism, bonded labour et cetera pulsated immense mobility especially those belonging to
the lower class and tied to the land (Soysal 1994). Such populations lived in the colonial
lands or the lands of refuge and settled there for a durable period for generations and
developed complex relationship with the native communities. These diasporic populations
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formed what could be termed as the ‘old’ diaspora (Mishra 2), i.e. the early modern, classic
capitalist diasporas in the pre-globalized world.
Before the process of modern globalization actually started in the postwar period,
there were social formations that comprised of immigrants that lived in often involuntary
dispersion from their homelands and that resisted full assimilation or were negated the option
of assimilating or both at the same time. Khachig Tölölyan asserts in this regard that “Many
of them existed in lamentable and precarious conditions, glorified by no one in an era when
the nation-state was the supreme form of polity, and diasporicity could mean second-class
citizenship” (“Diaspora Studies: Past, Present and Promise” 5). The dispersed populations
during the nineteenth and opening decades of twentieth century were not citizens or the
“natural communities” of the hostland. Those days the congruence of nationality and
citizenship was the order of the day. The early modern categories of belonging subscribed to
the narrative of linking state and nation and corroborated that both were contemporaneous –
the cultural and the political units adjoined by the hyphen in “nation-state”. The old diasporas
in the early phases of the nation-state were denied membership due to the idealized
conceptual model of the same that preferred “polity and culture should be congruent: a
distinctive national culture should be diffused throughout the territory of the state, but it
should stop at the frontiers of the state; there should be cultural homogeneity within states but
sharp cultural boundaries between them” (Brubaker 2015: 132). Rogers Brubaker in his book
Grounds for Difference (2015) discusses the politics of belonging of the deterritorialised
peoples in relation to the congruence of state territory and citizenry. One has to agree to his
argument related to the idealized model of nation-state which synchronises cultural
nationality and legal citizenship because that era was not technologically advanced as of
today which could defy politico-cultural constraints. That was an era not of today’s
globalization but of ‘globalism’ (Robertson 1992). The geographic mobility was bounded
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externally and the nation-state used to be fluid only internally (Gellner 1983). Hence,
migration brought with it an alienation effect that made the diasporas in the land of settlement
a static, solid and immobile entity both at geographical and cultural level. As communities of
foreign origin the diasporas were unable to cross their own cultural boundaries and mingle
with the host society and its culture. And the movement back to homeland was not as
convenient and frequent due to the lack of technological advancement and the political will as
it is today.
Therefore, the conventional outlook towards the nation-states has been that of a space
with exclusive monolithic community sharing same territory and cultural or ethnic
background with a democratic structure that secures civil rights to its citizens. However,
when mass migration became a phenomenon ineludible the same nation-state turned out to be
a haven for different nationalities, i.e. a ‘hostland’ for migrating populations. Now, thinking
of a nation in respect of the diasporas always brings up intricate question apropos to cultural
identity. Wherein lies the identity of a migrating population that carries with itself a whole
different set of beliefs, culture, ethnicity and religion in a different country/nation-state. The
hyphenated identities of the old-world nationalist diaspora bear a sort of cultural pang while
assimilating, integrating and incorporating in the host nation. The reasons of such cultural
commotion could be sited in the ‘imagined communities’ of two different nations – one that
sends the immigrants and the other that receives them. The axiomatic concept of the nationstate, which began to take form during the French Revolution and was studied theoretically
and practised politically in the subsequent centuries, posited a model that matched the
frontiers of the territorial organization, the state, with the frontiers of the nation as an
“imagined community” (Anderson 1991). Nation, as has been defined by Anderson, is “an
imagined political community” which is inherently “limited and sovereign”. As Anderson
puts it, the nation is “imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never
Page 7 of 46
know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of
each lives the image of their communion” (6). Therefore, in view of this very definition it is
viable to say that the diaspora communities imagine themselves with their own ‘nation’ that is
left behind, their homeland which lives in their minds. This is why the idea of homeland in
the old diasporic thoughts was framed by religious icons of gods and goddesses, an old copy
of religious texts like Ramayana or the Qur’an, an old ethnic dress like saree or kurta, and a
photograph of pilgrimage etc (Mishra 2007).
Further, Anderson says that “the nation is imagined as limited (emphasis original)
because even the largest of them, encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has
finite, if elastic, boundaries, beyond which lie other nations” (7). This formulation of nation –
as cultural entity – adhering to bounded territory of the state – as political formation – is very
significant for discussion here. Of course, a community which exclusively recognizes itself
with a particular clan will not include others of the mankind into the set piece of land to be
governed by them – that is, the idea of ‘one people - one state’. The diaspora communities
cross one border and enter into another. The host society receives them with anxiety and
uncertainty. Whereas the diasporas themselves cannot refrain from their own scepticism in
assimilating with the new environment where they dwindle between the thoughts of what
they really are and what they have become. But this border crossing was a phenomenon
mostly for once and all in the early modern times because the return was not possible after
leaving their own territory. Stéphane Dufoix in his book Diasporas (2008) refers to the article
“Diaspora” in the 1931 edition of the American Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences written
by historian Simon Dubnov who held that “Diaspora is a Greek term for a nation or part of a
nation separated from its own state or territory and dispersed among other nations but
preserving its national culture” (126). This very preservation of national culture was the
outcry of the diasporas who had been a “nation or part of a nation” before. The world that the
Page 8 of 46
first generation migrants occupied was in no way a pure “melting pot” which Israel Zangwill
proposed in 1908. The melting pot theory assumed that in the process of blending both
majority and minority group lose its distinctiveness. And this was never the case with many
diasporas till the world faced globalization. However, many disliked the idea of Zangwill in
reference to United States as they argued that assimilation would debase and weaken
American character (Ross 1914).
Benedict Anderson also holds that the nation is “imagined as sovereign (emphasis
original) because the concept was born in an age in which Enlightenment and Revolution
were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely-ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm” (7).
Here the ultimate submission from the diasporas to the sovereignty of the hostland is
discernible. They become citizens or denizens of a particular state but they seize to be the
nationals of the state where they settle. Becoming a national requires total dissolution of both
host and home community. Assimilation has two possible outcomes – first, the minority loses
its peculiarity and becomes like majority, however, the majority doesn’t change; second, the
ethnic and majority groups blend homogeneously losing speciality (Jiobu 1988). But bringing
the immigrants of first generation through a one-way and one-sided process of adaptation was
not possible for the receiving society. The first generation migrants’ whole identity remained
adhered to its ethnicity; therefore, giving up their prior cultural, linguistic and societal
characteristics could never happen in a surrounding which barely provided state-sponsored
conditions favourable to facilitate this process. Finally, in Anderson’s view nation is
“imagined as a community (emphasis original), because, regardless of the actual inequality
and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal
comradeship” (7). But for the diasporas in a particular nation inequality and exploitation
always prevailed. The community in those days was significantly different from the
community of late or postmodern societies. In pre-modern and early modern societies, the
Page 9 of 46
communities were based on certain criteria that included blood lines or descent (kinship),
locality and residence (neighbourhood) and the nation and its association with state
consolidated citizens’ solidarity (Kennedy and Roudometof 6). The communal relations were
mainly based on face-to-face encounters constrained in a locality. Hence, territory and social
proximity both were coterminous in maintaining communal ties. Whereas the diaspora
communities had to maintain their solidarity with the state of residence while being in a
territory far off from the homeland, the native nationals maintain a vertical comradeship with
such alien communities. Thus, the community of their origin that the diasporas belonged to
was always beyond their reach and existed only in their emotionally charged imaginary.
Thus, the traditional form of diasporic existence was territorially confined. There was
no cross-border connection with the land called home and the desire to return to the
homeland, whether real or imagined, remained largely a myth. As Mishra gives examples that
during apartheid in South Africa few Indians returned to India and nor have the Fiji Indians
despite the turbulence there of late. There were no instant communicative tools that could
defy spatial restraints to establish a connect between the two communities, one that leaves
and the other that stays behind. However, with the gradual advancement in science and
technology, the transportation and communication means became speedy and available. The
era of globalization brought with itself a flow of capital, goods, information, ideas, people
that spread to almost every part of the world in the latter half of the twentieth century. This
very flow affected the whole configurations of diasporas’ connection not only with the
homeland but also with other diasporas located at various parts of the globe. The
unprecedented connection amongst the displaced communities gave rise to a different and
webbed world order. In such changed circumstances, diaspora’s role as a link between
deterritorialised groups gains accent. The international borders recede due to cross-border
Page 10 of 46
activities carried out by individuals, communities, and non-state actors. Hence, globalization
paved the way for a transnational world.
Globalization, transnationality and diaspora
From the fixity of migrants in the early modern nation-states, the world found more
mobile populations in the second half of the twentieth century. Indeed, the twentieth century
onwards has been termed as “The Age of Migration” (Castle and Miller 1993). International
migration has grown in volume and significance since 1945 and particularly since the mid1980s. There are several historical factors considered to lend acceptance to these claims such
as the massive diasporas caused by the Second World War, the disintegration of British
empire and the subsequent migration from the former colonies to the West. These events
were followed by the process of globalisation of the world economy which produced a highly
mobile work force and an unprecedented phenomenon of illegal immigration as a result of the
growing imbalance between the developed and the underdeveloped parts of the globe. Recent
scholarly works emphasize upon the changing contours of the experiences of global
population in the wake of socio-cultural and politico-economic activities of nation-states. The
advent of globalization has proffered immense turbulence in the global order that was once
solid in nature with less flexibility in relation to other countries/nation-states. Nowadays,
international relations and foreign diplomacy is much more interdependent and intergovernmental. The proliferation of new types of immigrants is a result of these changing
configurations in relation among various nation-states. These new immigrants are mostly
technocrats, engineers, contract workers, agents of MNCs, members of international NGOs
etc. The diaspora which was previously not in direct contact with its other communities
scattered elsewhere now is in constant connection through computer mediated
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communication and internet on cyberspace. Therefore, the diaspora is spreading its activities
beyond the territory of the hostland and reaching its other diasporic nodes. Thus, the
conventional unidirectional diasporic movement is shifted to multidirected transnational one.
In fact, transnationalism, in general, refers to the multiple associations and interactions
connecting people across the borders of nation-states. It has been given an exemplar
expression by Glick Schiller et al. (1992) that “a new kind of migrating population is
emerging, composed of those whose networks, activities and patterns of life encompass both
their host and home societies”. Transnationalism denotes a condition in which in spite of
great distances and international borders, which represent all the laws, norms and the
narratives, a sort of relationship is established amongst the migrant peoples which is
operating vigorously and in real time while being stretched out throughout the world. The
“relations between citizens of different nation-states are different from relations between
governments and their representatives” resulted in the term ‘international’ being replaced by
transnational. So the prefix “trans” was much more useful and relevant than “inter” in
relation to national boundaries that are crossed by the transnational relations (Vertovec and
Cohen 1999: 11).
The global approach adds plurality of expression to transnational relationships
emphasizing on diaspora-diaspora relations rather than harping only on diaspora-homeland
relations (Laguerre 6). There is no denying the fact that the world economy is the driving
force for the policy makers at local, national and international level. The exemplary growth in
entrepreneurial, industrial and marketing activities as a result of globalization between
various countries has compelled the national societies, national economy and national
governments to respect other nations’ economic and market ambitions. The treaties that are
signed between highly capitalist and developed nations like U.S. and other developing
countries like India with huge market are testimony of the effect of a globalizing
Page 12 of 46
phenomenon. This influences the population of the nation-states as well. The Wallmart of
America and Patanjali of India are the good example in case. The satellite technology has
brought the whole world in the living room of any household located in any territorial space
on the globe through the television. The internet is facilitating new avenues of instant
communication on a virtual space. These factors produce drastic pressure on the geopolitical
boundaries of nation-states. And the diasporas residing in them also get supremely motivated
under such ambience to reach out to the homeland and vice-versa. On the one hand, the
homeland government attempts to outreach the diasporas for various remittance benefits, on
the other, the diasporas get an opportunity to enjoy the privileges of their country of origin in
forms of dual citizenship or other political and financial benefits. For example, the innovative
PIO Card scheme run by the government of India with effect from 31st March 1999 (later its
merger with Overseas Citizens of India card since 9th January 2015) to outreach its overseas
population for cultural, economic, religious and educational interests. These cards have been
issued to a “Person of Indian Origin” which means a foreign citizen who at any time held an
Indian passport; or he/she or either his/her parents or grandparents or great grandparents was
born in and was permanently resident in India; or he/she is a spouse of a citizen of India or a
person of Indian origin as per the previous two definitions. This scheme has encouraged
more Indians residing abroad, as well as those who have never lived in India, to “return” and
invest in India’s economy – transforming “brain drain” to a “brain circulation” (Saxenian
2006). The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has reported that Indians living abroad transferred
$24.6 billion to India in the fiscal year 2005-2006. India, thus, continues to retain its position
as the leading recipient of remittances in the world. The World Bank estimates for 2005 put
India in the lead at $23.5 billion, with China and Mexico close behind at $22.4 billion and
$21.7 billion, respectively. Thus, globalization has catered to a symbiotic connection in the
contemporary times between the diaspora and the homeland and to other diasporic network.
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Turning again to the diasporas, as Laguerre observes, the scholarly studies should
focus on diasporic globalization approach that reconfigures the study of diaspora by
highlighting the significance of the multinational context bred by the multilateral relations of
diasporic sites in various other countries and with the homeland (Laguerre 2006). The
homeland, the hostland and the diasporas influence each other and in the process turn this
multitude of sites into a connected area of social practice. Thus, one’s action depends not
only on one’s residence in the hostland but also on the social context of the multinational
universe in which one is ingrained. A transnational relationship comes to fruition through
bonds of language, culture, religion and a sense of common history that give an affective and
intimate colour that formal citizenship or even long settlement frequently lack. However,
Robin Cohen’s view in respect of diaspora’s engagement with the nation-state could be
contested when he asserts that many diasporas use the nation-state instrumentally rather than
revere affectively (“Diasporas and the Nation-State” 518). Diasporas want not only the
security and opportunities in the hostland but also a continuing relationship with their country
of origin and co-ethnic members in other countries. But on the basis of this very fact one
cannot deny the affection of the diasporas towards their homeland. It is the aspiration of the
contemporary migrants to be attached to their roots that makes them demand dual citizenship
or dual nationality as in the case of the Indian diaspora discussed above. There had been a
constant demand from the Indians living in various parts of the world for a more flexible and
accommodating law related to their homeland orientation. And the High Level Committee on
the Indian diaspora formed by the Govt. of India which submitted its report on 19th December
2001 categorically mentions in the Executive Summary that “since India achieved its
Independence, overseas Indians have been returning to seek their roots and explore new
avenues and sectors for mutually beneficial interaction, from investment, to transfer of skills
and technology, to outright philanthropy and charitable works” (xi). Such findings emphasize
Page 14 of 46
that how the diasporas have become transnational or the migrant communities have become
“transnational diasporas” (Lie 1995). In other words, the notion of transnational diaspora no
longer describes the sheer fact of dispersion, but “points out to a structured whole where
components interact despite their dispersion” (Ben-Rafael and Sternberg 4). Further, as the
report suggests, the Indian diaspora’s “genuine efforts to make a ‘payback’ to their mother
country, as they described it to the Committee, are still being stalled because of an
unresponsive policy and implementation environment” (emphasis original, xii). Thus, it is
evident from this example that the diasporas maintain deep ties with the homeland and coethnic peoples in order to sustain the cross-border connectedness. Hence, to respond to their
reverence towards the land of origin there has been instances in which governments have
made policies to accommodate the diasporas into a symbiotic relationship. This was found in
the Council of Europe’s nationality convention of 1997, which permits the signatory states to
tolerate dual nationality in the interest of better immigrant integration (in Joppke and
Morawska 18).
The concept of transnationalism came into vogue around 1990s expanding itself
across several scholarly fields just like diaspora. Since then it has influenced the studies of
movements of people in physical, imaginative and virtual spaces. The defining element in the
profile of transnationality is that the migrants’ lives and those remain behind are
simultaneously connected between two or more nation. As Thomas Faist suggests:
Although both terms refer to cross-border processes, diaspora has been often used to
denote religious or national groups living outside an (imagined) homeland, whereas
transnationalism is often used both more narrowly – to refer to migrants’ durable ties
across countries – and, more widely, to capture not only communities, but all sorts of
social formations, such as transnationally active networks, groups and organisations.
(emphasis original, 9)
Page 15 of 46
Therefore, the transnational practices have made scholars to call diasporas “transmigrants”
(Glick Schiller et al. 1992; Basch et al. 1994) who frame an ethnic conclave termed as
“diasporic ethnopolis” (Laguerre 2000: 12) and “global diasporas” (Cohen 1997).
Transmigrants are not sojourners or temporary settlers. They are settled and incorporated in
the economy and political institutions, localities and patterns of the daily life of their societies
of residence concurrently maintaining connections, establish institutions, making transactions
and influencing local and national events in the countries from which they are emigrated.
And the global diasporas link the national to the world economy. Whatever may be the
manner to address the diasporas in the contemporary context, the basic reality that the
scholars try to delineate are somewhat alike. However, the defining feature of diasporas as a
social form rests on a relationship between globally dispersed yet self-identified ethnic
groups; the territorial states where such groups reside; and the homeland states from which
they or their progenitors came (Sheffer 1986, Safran 1991, Cohen 1997).
In the present trans-state and transborder networks of relationship and
communications that connect migrants to multiple states, nations have transformed to
“transnation” ( Appadurai 1993; Tölölyan 2000; Yeoh and Willis 2004), “global nation”
(Smith 1997; Østergaard-Nielsen 2003), “transnational state” (Robinson 2001), “transglobal
network nation” (Laguerre 2009) and, of late, “cosmonation” (Laguerre 2016) that challenge
the notion of national space as territory within which a singular people reside. Peoples can
form nations in the transnational moment without occupying the same territory, thus,
decoupling the ‘nation’ from the ‘state’. In this context, the notion of ‘tansnation’ is helpful
that emphasizes a common identity which is not associated directly to residence in a specific
territory and conceived as a “delocalized practice” wherein retained “a special ideological
link to a putative place of origin but is otherwise a thoroughly diasporic collectivity”
(Appadurai 424). In some cases, the connection to the land of origin forces the sending
Page 16 of 46
countries to seek to encourage migrants to stay abroad but sustain links. Such countries
engage in ‘global nation policies’ which extends extra-territorial membership to citizens and
former citizens abroad. Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Turkey have been seen to make
the transition from ‘export and return’ oriented nations to ‘global nation’ (Østergaard-Nielsen
2003). William I. Robinson provides a significant insight into the social theory of
globalization maintaining a historical materialistic conception of the state and argues that “the
state and the nation-state are not coterminous” (157). He moves beyond the global-national
dualism and develops the concept of a ‘transnational state’ which has come into existence due
to economic globalization to “function as the collective authority for a global ruling class”
(158). The emergent transnational state institutionalizes a new class relation between global
capital and global labour in the capitalist globalization trend. Globalization is unifying the
world into a single mode of production integrating the national circuits into global circuits of
emerging global economy that erodes national boundaries and checks independent
economies, polities and societal structures. The geopolitical side (i.e. the state) of the entity
‘nation-state’ remains under scrutiny due to the transnational production practices. This leads
to a global internal linkage between peoples which supersedes the whole set of nation-state
institutions by transnational (or global) institutions like IMF or WTO. The emerging
transnational institutionalism gives birth to the new class relations of global capitalism. For
instance, when the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank condition financing on
enactment of new labor codes to make workers more "flexible," or on the rollback of a state
sponsored "social wage," they are producing this new class relation. Transnational states are
cognizant of their role in subordinating global labor to global capital in order to reproduce
this new class relation. Moving on from the Marxian conception of globalization, there is
another scholar Michel Laguerre who views diasporic dispersion in a different light. He
emphasizes on the “transglobal network nation” which functions on the fundament of
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“network governance without a government” (2009: 197). The transglobal network nation
doesn’t depend on territorial sovereignty, spatial adjacency, any form of fixity and nationalist
orientations. It is a “new form of nationhood” (Laguerre 2009: 197) that transcends the
confinements of the nation-states and its sovereign exclusivism. As diasporic sites are mobile
places so the transglobal network nation is characterized by its mobility that affects both the
diasporic and the homeland sites. The diasporic nodes with its distinct peculiarities produce a
network that facilitates the transglobal network nation to function on the aegis of the
transnational infrastructures that sustain its border-crossing activities. Another nomenclature
has cropped up in the context of transformation of nation-state which is again propounded by
Laguerre in his book The Multisite Nation (2016). The categories discussed above indicate
the position of the diaspora-homeland relationship and introduce the nation’s geographical
expansion beyond the state’s territorial domain, deterritorialization and reterritorialization of
the nation, transnational relations that uphold incessantly the existence of both the homeland
and the diaspora and the role of communication technologies in this respect. However, the
neologism “cosmonation” refers to the new “augmented nation recast across multiple
sovereign territorial landscapes” (Laguerre 2016: 9). Cosmonation is multisite because it may
or may not possess the territory or territories in which it is grounded for the governance is
shared by both the homeland and its diaspora tentacles. Cosmonations imply finite, transient
and symbolic borders that can be imagined with the identification of diasporic sites of
settlement. That is why, due to the logic of the “homeland-multisite diaspora ensemble”, as
Laguerre suggests, “the boundaries of a cosmonation are always being made and remade
from the expansion, contraction, or disappearance of nodes” (2016: 9). Such a nation is an
outcome of a formal linking of homeland and diaspora through dual citizenship/nationality,
the right to vote in legislative elections and, in few instances of European Union populations,
through representation in the homeland parliament. Thus, in all the above transformations of
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the imagined community called nation, and its further imagined politico-territorial form, the
nation-state, the diaspora populations occupy a central space and act as “exemplary
communities of the transnational moment” (Tölölyan 1991: 5).
In the context of globalization, the diaspora has turned out to be a political reference
which goes beyond frontiers and releases strong claims of legitimacy in international domain.
Diasporas exclaim transnational solidarity in a world where national identities seem to be in
depression. Hence, diaspora firmly show an alternative to traditional social and political
relations among nation-states. It provides a platform to people aspiring to independence and
recognition as in the case of Kurds, Sikhs, Turks etc. It has also gained immense significance
in the wake of the relative strain of the concept of the nation, the protests against State
coercion, the resistance to national integration models, the inclination towards
multiculturalism, the predilection for mobility and all forms of cultural confluence. The
diasporas typify the myth of a world free from national frontiers and old fences. Members of
diasporas do not exclusively belong to one country but several. Diasporas’ cosmopolitanism,
which was once seen cynically in the hostland, is now respected as an epitome of a world
without borders. Indeed, they seem to hint at the future postnational condition and
The Postnational Phase and diaspora
The decline of the nation-state thesis that was circulated with Eric J. Hobsbawm
(1990) still garners support. In recent scholarly works the focus has shifted from nation and
nationalism to its viability – whether the nation-state remains the primary unit of political
concern or is rendered increasingly marginal by contemporary world order. That is to say “we
need to think ourselves beyond the nation” because the modern nation-state is in “a serious
crisis” brought on by transnational conditions. Globalization has “de-territorialized” the
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nation and created post-national citoyens du monde (Appadurai 411). Along these lines, since
1990s there has been an increasing scholarly contention that we are now in a ‘postnational’ or
‘postnationalist’ age (Archibugi and Held, 1995; Habermas, 2001; Sassen, 2002). On the
basis of empirical, theoretical and normative reflections these authors hold that the high point
of nation-state is over and that the time has come to celebrate the rise of new socio-political
configurations. The term postnational may be understood to suggest that the nation-state and
national identity no longer have political significance – the former is relegated as an effective
political institution by process of globalization, and the later is being transcended by the rise
of cosmopolitan identities. Globalization impacts the importance of nation-state in three
ways. The first is that global capitalism has meager respect for national borders or the
national governments through mechanisms of financial/commodity markets and multinational
corporations. Few scholars have coined new phrases, Disneyfication, McDonaldization, and
even Coca-Colonization, to illustrate the submergence of national distinctiveness. Second, the
appearances of threats to mankind like environmental degradation, climate change,
population growth, epidemics and global terror networks that exceed the capacity of the
nation-states to deal with. The third is the rise of transnational institutions, including the
World Bank and the IMF, and regional blocs, such as the European Union, NAFTA and
SAARC, which increasingly confines the nation-states’ space for negotiation.
The German theorist and public intellectual Jürgen Habermas has reflected upon
“postnational constellation”. The ambiguity of globalization is for Habermas logically clear
in respect of its role in ushering the end of the global dominance of the nation-state as a
model for political organization. “Postnational” means that the globalization of markets and
of economic processes and commerce, of modes of communication, and of culture, all
increasingly deprive the classical nation-state of its formerly privileged position of sovereign
power. As a result, its equally classic functions: to secure peace internally and defend its
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borders, to create fair conditions for a domestic market economy and to exert influence on
domestic markets via macroeconomic policies, to raise taxes and allocate budgets for
maintenance of minimum social standard and social equity, and to enforce civil rights of its
citizens. To elaborate further, Habermas emphatically holds that the Western model welfarestate of mass democracies now faces hard times. The idea of democratic society having
authority over society as a whole derives from contextualizing nation-states. To quote
Habermas, “The phenomena of the territorial state, the nation, and a popular economy
constituted within national borders formed a historical constellation in which the democratic
process assumed a more or less convincing institutional form” (60). This historical
constellation is completely questioned in the era of globalization. The postnational
constellation is a list of political challenges pitted against the weakened “democratic selfconfidence” (Habermas 61) viewed from the set perspective of the nation-state. Hence,
nation-states are “opening” themselves to an economically driven world society.
Habermas elaborates on how the basis of legitimacy for democratic processes can be
validated in a postnational world beyond the frontiers that nation states have so far been able
to generate and sustain. The democracies on the Western model have always originated in the
form of nation-states. The societies existing within territorial borders have certain
preconditions to wield a democratic form of self-control which are fulfilled by nation-states.
Habermas discusses four aspects of modern day nation-state – a) the emergence of the state
as an administrative state sustained through taxation, b) maintaining sovereignty over a
determinate geographical territory, c) the specific form of nation-state for self-regulation, d)
and democratically developed into legal and social state. Habermas takes up globalization as
a continuing process which is characterized by the increasing scope for commercial,
communicative and exchange relations beyond national borders. Today satellite technology,
air travel and digital communication spread the ‘network’. Network has turned out to be a
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significant term referring to various flows of goods, persons, capital, electronic information
transfer and information processing. Flows are stream of information between nodes in a
network society whose social structure is made of networks propelled by microelectronicsbased information and communication technologies (Castells 2004). Such social structures
result from the interaction between social organization, social transformation and a
technological model framed through digital information and communication technologies.
There is also a “network enterprise” (Castells 28) made from firms or segments of firms
decentralizing large corporations internally as networks. This leads to a networked economy
of alliances based on sharing not only capital and labour but also information and knowledge
in order to gain market share. However, economic globalization directly affects national
economies as evident in rising impact of transnational corporations with worldwide
production facilities and the increase in foreign direct investments. Thus, now there is a larger
networked global economy replacing international economy running on informational
networks which link suppliers and customers through the networked firm. The unit of the
production process is not the firm but the business venture, ordained by a network, the
network enterprise.
These factors don’t invite trouble to a “functional and legitimate” democratic process.
But they certainly prove fatal to the nation-state. Globalization has superseded territorial form
of the nation-state shifting the core of control from space to time. The foreign trade policies
are like national borders with floodgates which regulate the currents so that only the desired
outflows are permitted. Further, Habermas examines the features of globalization that
enfeeble the capacity of the nation-state to maintain its borders and to regulate exchange
processes with its external environment. He goes on to analyse the effects of globalization on
the security of the rule of law and the effectiveness of the administrative state; the
sovereignty of the territorial state; collective identity; and the democratic legitimacy of the
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nation-state. Ecological imbalance and unreliable high-tech facilities have given birth to new
kinds of risk that do not respect national borders. Environmental threats, like ozone hole, are
unmanageable within the national framework. Moreover, tax-based states are rendered
incapable of making profit out of national resources due to the increased capital mobility
accelerated by globalization that raises difficulty in collection of taxes.
In respect of sovereignty it is perceptible that nation-states are bound to make political
decisions on territorial basis. But an interdependent world society must evade the “territorial
trap”. There emerge other borders beyond the borders of the nation-states in the form of
economic networks and military coalition like OECD and NATO respectively. New regimes
in economic sphere like IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization and in areas such
as the World Health Organization, the International Nuclear Regulatory Agency or other
agencies of United Nations have made governance beyond the nation-state possible. The
basic political structures or interconnected regimes like European Union, SAARC, NAFTA,
ASEAN or G-7 summits show the distinction between foreign and domestic policy is fading
and diplomacy in the classical sense increasingly overlaps with cultural or foreign trade
The nation-state has facilitated political integration of citizens into a large-scale
society. But the “facade” of nation has also given way to secessionism, colonial domination
and forceful assimilation of the aboriginals. It also gives rise to ethno-centric reactions to
anything foreign to a particular national identity – hatred and violence against foreigners,
other faiths and races, marginalised sections. This is why Habermas distinguishes between
cognitive dissonances leading to solidarity of national identities and the hybrid
differentiations that weaken native cultures and homogeneity in the advent of assimilation
into a single material world culture. Due to desired, tolerated or unsuccessfully resisted
migrations the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) societies
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find a substantial change in the ethnic, religious and cultural compositions of their
populations. This pluralisation of life forms could be handled by democratic constitutional
state but the problems arising from immigration and multicultural society pose a real
challenge for the classical nation-state. For nation-states the difficulty arises in
accommodating all citizens on equal terms with the political culture of the country when the
majority culture ceases itself to be identical with the national culture. Thus, the solidarity of
citizens relies on the success of this decoupling of political culture from majority culture. The
diasporas oscillate between these two national cultures while imagining themselves as
belonging to one of these with hyphenated identity (like African-American, Indian-American
etc.). The conventional identification of the state with a specific national cultural identity can
no longer be supported practically. National citizenship has paved way for local, regional and
transnational forms of citizenship based on non-national institutions. For instance, the
European Union is seen as a potential example for the embodiment of “postnational
citizenship” (Soysal 1994). Because once the guestworkers arrived in the host societies of
postwar Europe they became formidable as foreign communities. And the new model called
“postnational”, as Yasemin Nuhoglu Soysal puts it, “derives from transnational discourse and
structures celebrating human rights as a world-level organizing principle” (1994: 3).
Therefore, postnational citizenship integrates the foreigners as “persons” who has “the right
and duty of participation in the authority structures and public life of a polity, regardless of
their historical or cultural ties to that community” (1994: 3). However, Christian Joppke and
Ewa Morawska (2003) question the empirical relevance of postnational membership model.
They hold that the first generation immigrants had their return option open with them. Once
the integration of the second generation and third generation of settled guestworkers took
place “the deficits of postnational membership became obvious” (2003: 16). That is why the
revaluation of citizenship in European states cannot be smoothly accommodated within the
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postnational membership because exemption from state determined expulsion has remained
the privilege of citizens alone. For example, the violent approach towards foreigners in
postunity Germany did not differentiate between asylum-seekers and “Turks” born and raised
in Germany (in Joppke and Morawska 16). This conception of “universal personhood”
(Soysal 136) might play a valuable role in promoting a vision of tolerance, diversity, and
integration that people, in good faith, may aspire and that may be realized by political
stakeholders in democratic states (Schuck 1998).
More often than not the national politics is pinned around the ideals of democracy and
distributive justice. Hence, the democratic rule has to institutionalise decision-making
processes across national boundaries in order to sustain itself in future. As regard to
distributive justice it is held by many liberal egalitarians that the significant challenges for the
welfare of the individual of a nation-state, like poverty, environmental degradation, and
exploitation, are transnational in origin and nature. Therefore, a universal, global theory of
redistributive justice is needed that makes no distinction between co-nationals and foreigners.
In the early 1970s after the postwar era an entirely different system of transnational liberalism
emerged. Earlier, the flow of cross-border funds was mainly from government to government
or from multilateral lending agency to government. But now most of the money moving
across borders is private, governments do not have any involvement in the transaction at
either end (Ohmae 1996). The global markets have unprecedentedly liberalized, capital
mobility has accelerated and industrial mass production has taken a leap. The globalized
markets have clearly worked in harming the state’s autonomy and its capacity for economic
interventions. As markets drive out politics, the nation-state increasingly loses its capacities
to raise taxes and stir growth, and the ability to secure the essential foundations of its own
legitimacy. This happens due to growing rate of unemployment, overburdened social security
systems and a contracting tax base that exhausts the financial capacities of the state.
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International stock exchanges have taken over the “valuation” of national economic policies.
Further, national governments, terrified of the discreet threat of capital flight, have let the
cost-cutting deregulatory policies flexible enough that produce vital profits and fatal income
disparities, unemployment and the social marginalization of a growing population of the
Thus, as nation-states increasingly lose both their capacities for action and the
stability of their collective identities, they will find it more and more difficult to meet the
need for self-legitimation. This perhaps leads to the image of territorial masters losing control
of their own borders. And since diaspora has limited explanatory powers in the lack of
nation-states and homeland, the idea of a world without borders certainly transforms the
diasporic existence and consciousness. This leads to the formation of the late modern
complex diasporas that is interconnected to a supreme degree like never before. The complex
or segmented diasporas are so called because they may unite together in some contexts and
not in others; their members’ identities are situationally determined (Werbner 2004). Pnina
Werbner elaborates in the context of the public sphere created by the South Asian diasporic
communities in Britain. In the South Asian diaspora “the vast cultural regions of consumption
do not simply coincide with either religion or national homelands” (Werbner 2004: 900). The
complex or segmented diasporas of a particular region share both high and popular material
culture of consumption and religion across a large number of nation-states, create social and
economic space for coordination and communal solidarity which debunks national origins
and religious beliefs. In their cultural productions the British South Asian artists and
producers celebrate the shared cross-ethnic sensibility beyond religion and national origins.
In Britain, Pakistani or Bangladeshi national identities are virtually submerged under a
‘Muslim’ identity. And British Pakistanis create two diasporic public spheres of British
Islamic and the British South Asian, just as an Indian or Hindu and Sikh identity is linked to
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‘South Asian’ or ‘British South Asian’ identity. Such alternative identities lead to a
complexity that defies exclusivity of diasporic communities and parochialism of any sort
arising out of conservatism and family pressure. The subsequent British born South Asian
generations tend to give message of tolerance, multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism which
is reflected in the novels and films of British South Asians. The religious and South Asian
tradionalism, sexual conservatism and ethnic chauvinism are satirised and confronted in
artistic outputs like Gurinder Chadha’s Bend it Like Beckham (2002, a South Asian British
Film) and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988). Therefore, the nationality of the
diasporic South Asians, like Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi, in few crucial cases doesn’t
come to the fore when matters related to Islamophobic or xenophobic concerns in the host
societies take graver shapes. Ergo, there is a need to look at the diasporas deterring from the
traditional viewpoint which resisted inclusivity and adhered to the conventional atavism.
Hence, such propositions lead to accept the fact that common culture, language,
music, sport, literature, attire and popular entertainment channels/cinema are widely enjoyed
transcending geopolitical regions encompassing several post-colonial nation-states in a
globalizing world. That is to say, a thoroughly new diaspora is taking shape in today’s world
for the second or third generation migrants could plausibly be termed as neo-diasporas.
These diaspora communities populate ‘liquid homes’ (Cohen 2009) as they are more mobile
and more connected to their homelands and other similar diasporas than those in the past era
of rigid formulations of nation-states when boundaries were the absolute signifiers of power,
domination and control. Research on the second generation has demonstrated that
transnational migration is not a transient phenomenon (Glick Schiller and Fouron 2003),
which further points out that the nation-state container view of society does not sufficiently
put forth the complex interconnectedness of contemporary reality (Ben-Rafael and Sternberg
2009). This is not an attempt to add to the already existing plethora of terminologies under
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whose penumbrae my theoretical formulation of “neo-diaspora” may fall but to assert a
transformed contemporaneity. The neo-diasporas are not only transnational but also transstate that challenges “nation-state container view” of host societies. The nation-state’s
geopolitical unit, i.e. state (not the nation), is being politically transcended as state sustained
machinery functions at internal and external domains to regulate membership in the national
collectivity and movement across territorial borders. Of course, commonly nation and states
are regarded as synonyms but this view signals a statist bias that prefers claims to nationhood
by entities established as sovereign states over those of stateless nations like Tibet, Khalistan,
Tamil Elam, Kurdistan etc. It also ignores the plurinational/multinational democracies such
as Belgium, Canada, India, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom (Keating 2001;
Gagnon and Tully 2001). Movement of people across state boundaries is outrightly a political
matter because it threatens the entente of territory, political institutions and society that states
seek to uphold. However, networks of people, information, and goods regularly span the
boundaries of the state, leading transnational migration to relentlessly recur. Moreover,
migrants do not forge their communities alone; states and the politics within their borders
provide scope for migrant trans-state social activities (Waldinger and Fitzerald 2004). I have
deliberately avoided the stopgap linguistic dependant of “posts”. The prefix “neo-” serves the
purpose here to reflect the paradigmatic transnational and trans-state shift that, indeed,
translates diaspora communities into late-modern hypermobile groups or neo-diasporas. The
transnational ties lead to regular trans-state contacts through several nodes of diasporic
network. Such a network operates both inside and outside the nation-state via institutions,
social and economic actions, discourses or flows. Encouraged by this network for settlement
in the hostland, the migrants now see the opportunity of enjoying citizenship rights based on
personhood rather than membership in a particular political unit (Bauböck 1994; Soysal
1994; Jacobson 1996). Today, the migrants not only arrogate diasporic communities and
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varied social formations but also experience the trans-state shift of locations for sociocultural
distinctiveness vis-à-vis the conditions in acquisition of state membership in the receiving
societies. Besides, they also have access to the homeland’s state facilitated privileges. Thus,
modern citizenship plays vital role in emergence of modern democracy where pluralistic
conception of citizenship can accommodate the specificity of host communities and
multiplicity of the diasporic communities. Therefore, a liberal nationalist approach is
developing in favour of multicultural social system as in the United States, the United
Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.
What I have tried to explicate by bringing together the concept of diaspora with the
national, transnational and postnational conditions is that the diasporas have acquired new
face, facet and feature under changing patterns of the global state membership. The children
of migrants have developed a sense of multiple belongings without shedding their core
diasporic identity. As they receive education in the host society’s schools, participate in its
popular culture, and enter its workforce, native-born children of immigrants become part of
the former while maintaining economic, social, or cultural ties with, and political interests in,
their parents’ country or region of origin (Joppke and Morawska 2003). Furthermore, the
value that immigrant parents attach to education varies by ethnicity, class and gender, and is
one area where inherent cultural values are seen to influence patterns of integration in future
generations. For instance, in the UK, British Chinese and Indian children (some belonging to
the third generation) have consistently performed better than British Whites at school, and in
marked contrast, for example, to the high drop-out rate amongst children from London’s
Kurdish- and Turkish-speaking communities (Enneli et al. 2005; Saggar 2004). The Punjabi
immigrants’ strategy, according to the anthropologist Margaret Gibson, focuses on academic
achievement in the public schools as a means to improve their children’s chances for success
in terms of the opportunity structures of the American mainstream (in Alba and Nee 2003).
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The second generation, the children of the immigrants of the 1980s and '90s, are now coming
of age. They have reached a point in late adolescence and adulthood when they are braced up
to make a contribution to the future of ‘the Indian community’. They have not, however,
chosen to permeate seamlessly into the organizations set up by their parents or grandparents.
Nor have they opted to dispense with the ties based on their ethnic heritage altogether.
Instead, they are constructing an organizational network of their own (Bacon 1996). For the
second generation, organizational life is regulated by resources drawn from the cultural
milieu of America and, parents represented, India. The South Asians who settled in an
agricultural town in northern California evolved social norms encouraging “selective
acculturation” while discouraging social contact with local white youths who paid less or no
respect to the Punjabi youths (Gibson 1989).
The relationship between diasporas and territories have their own uniqueness.
Belonging to a diaspora implies being able to live simultaneously on three scales – the
transnational world scale; the local scale of the community; and the scale of the host or home
country – while privileging one or two of these. This combination of scales varies from one
individual to another according to their position in the pedigree of generations. The first
generation, those who were born and have lived in the society of origin, tend to privilege the
local scale of the host country and the national scale of the home country. The second
generation takes into account more often the local and national scales of the host country,
where they were born and have lived and, at times, the transnational scale; the third
generation, in search of its origins, depends on two or three of these scales (Bruneau 2010).
This is why, the old rigid and coercive conception of assimilation has become a passé (Alba
and Nee 2003) and “second-generation youths confront today a pluralistic, fragmented
environment that simultaneously offers a wealth of opportunities and major dangers to
successful adaptation” (Portes and Rumbaut 55). For instance, the South Asian diasporas in
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Britain face this duality of such environment as immigrant communities. Second-generation
immigrants, who were expected to have access to more opportunities, because of being born
in the country of settlement, are also discriminated on basis of ‘race’, colour or cultural
background. To cite the above example again, Chadha prominently features a significant
episode in Bend it Like Beckham where the protagonist, Jasminder, a Punjabi Sikh girl willing
to play football for an English Club, is told by her father, Mr. Bhamra, a first-generation
immigrant Punjabi, about unequal opportunities offered to people of non-white ethnicity. He
recounts the discrimination he was subjected to in his youth as a fast bowler and the fun that
the “bloody Goras” made of his turban and set him off packing. However, his scepticism is
flawed in the movie itself and Jasminder not only plays for the club but also gets scholarship
for her winning performance in a football match. Thus, the film shows the evolving concept
of Britishness which allows the non-whites to ‘bend’ their ways to achieve their goals making
most out of the opportunities in the host national society dominated territory. Such new
perspective does not make assumptions. It is said to “transcend” the old assimilationist,
immigrationist paradigm. Rather than the singular immigrant, scholars now detail the
diversity of immigration circumstances, class backgrounds, gendered transitions, and the
sheer multitude of migration experiences (Lie 1995: 304). This revaluation in approach
towards the immigrants and their children in the host society has been given apt manifestation
in the Editorial of the report on immigrant integration in the OECD and European Union
published in 2015 as follows:
The issue of immigration and the integration of immigrants and their children are high
on the policy agenda of EU and OECD countries, both from an economic and a social
standpoint. The active participation of immigrants and their children in the labour
market and, more generally, in public life is vital for ensuring social cohesion in the
host country and the ability of migrants to function as autonomous, productive and
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successful, self-realised citizens. This is also critical for facilitating their acceptance
by the host-country population.
(Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015: Settling In, 9)
The basic institutional rule of integration is appropriateness. Steps towards integration have
to be appropriate in order to be successful. The policies have to leave intact the established
communities and their cultural practices as well as the communities and cultural practices of
the immigrants (Münch 2001). Above, the OECD and EU encourage participation of the
immigrant communities and their descendants in the “public life” in order to promote “selfrealised” citizenship for “social cohesion” in the host country. Therefore, it demands
flexibility in political membership of a state against the normative national citizenship that
accentuates coexistence of rights and identity. As Aihwa Ong argues, “in the era of
globalization, individuals as well as governments develop a flexible notion of citizenship and
sovereignty” (1999: 6). Ong examines the role of states in responding flexibly to the mobility
of transnational populaces. She also discusses the postnational tendency which undermines
the role of the nation-state in determining the status of the subject as people form identities
and fealties which cut across the constraints of established political, economic and social
system. Flexible citizenship is partly a riposte to such positions, as it indicates the enduring
capacity of the nation-state to adapt to rapidly developing conditions. There are, Ong says,
“diverse forms of interdependencies and entanglements between transnational phenomena
and the nation states—relations that link displaced persons with citizens, integrate the
unstructured into the structured, and bring some kind of order to the disorderliness of
transnationalism” (1999: 15–16). This suggests, the action of states in this way is often
governed by the adience to mediate the threat (of dual loyalty) and the potential (primarily
economic) of transnationalism.
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The vast and crucial portion of world population living in the diaspora functions as a
connector at geographical, political and cultural level with other populations of the world, i.e.
the ‘homeland’ population, bringing down the nation-states’ monopoly in global affairs. The
diasporas are now mobile transnationals rather than the previously stagnant nationals. They
are still ‘imagined communities’ maintaining ‘long-distance nationalism’ (Anderson, “The
New World Disorder” 3) in the era of email, instant messaging and the World Wide Web and,
of course, modern modes of travel. Transnational links seek economic benefits, hence, favour
migrations, as well as the maintenance of a connection that is termed as “long-distance
nationalism”. Migrants and their descendants build presence in their adopted countries
according to the relationship to the homeland, and they try to influence the host country’s
policies in favour of the state, nation, or people to which they belong to. Involvement at a
distance with a country with which one feels individually or collectively related can take
different forms for “long-distance nationalism differs from other forms of nationalism in
terms of the nature of the relationship between the members of the nation and the national
territory” (Glick Schiller 2005: 571). National borders are not thought to delimit membership
in the nation because its members may live anywhere in the world and could hold citizenship
in other states. Local and regional associations connect compatriots who are not necessarily
fellow citizens. In its transstate dimension, the organization of stateless peoples involves the
politics of exile; in its localized dimension, it involves the demand for recognition of a nonstate identity. Kurds are currently the world’s largest ethnic population without a country.
They number between 20 and 25 million and are mainly distributed between Turkey (half of
them), Iraq, Iran, Syria, and the European countries (Dufoix 2008).
However, there are other sides of the argument too. Critics of postnationalism observe
that historically the rise of the nation-state and transnational capital complements each other
in a symbiotic relationship (Holton 1998). Nationalism is by no means inoperative in
Page 33 of 46
contemporary Europe/world and nor is only tantamount to violence and bias on grounds of
race, sex, ethnicity and so on. On the other side, postnationalism has its own typical violence
too – the violence of disregarding the differences between established and aspirant nationstates or placing a violent burden of proof on aspirant nationalisms (Epps 2003). The
processes pertaining globalisation, which leads to a postnational world, involve
transboundary networks and encompass multiple local or national processes and actors
(Sassen 2006). Hence, Brubaker suggests that, “Moreover, the recent forms of the external
politics of belonging are neither postnational nor transnational; they are forms of transborder
nationalism. They do not presage the transcendence of the nation-state; they indicate rather
the resilience and continued relevance of the nation-state model” (2015: 143). The nationstate would not disappear. Contrarily, the defence of “cultural-civilizational identity” would
become a powerful new rationale behind its continued existence (Jha 2006). Consequentially,
the diasporas, then, would continue to participate in various multicultural host societies as
harbinger of plural identities coexisting with mainstream nationality in receiving countries.
With the passage of time, the diasporans also integrate into the society of settlement that
involves adjustment in values, norms and behaviour. The future generations of diasporas do
achieve denizenship (Hammar 1990) enabling them of legal claim to local voting rights, the
right to permanent residence in a country and social rights in the wake of international
Although “globalization may lead us to rethink the notion of the nation in one array of
instances, and perhaps look for signs of organizational or symbolic decay, in other cases
nations and nationalism appear to be on an upswing” (Hannerz 1996: 89). In the case of
global crisis – like AIDS epidemic or the Ebola outbreak – the societies which have been
most successful in encountering them are those with strong and long-established nation-state
structures. While the existence of regional blocs does impact upon the sovereignty of their
Page 34 of 46
constituent member states, the European Union, the most developed regional bloc,
nevertheless remains an association between nation-states, an inter-national network of
interaction (Breen and O’Neill 2010). And the recent exit of UK from the EU is a relevant
case against such regional blocs in the world’s geopolitical matrix. Brexit and the earlier
Grexit are further problematising the issues concerning citizenship and immigration. Brexit is
seen as the will of the people of UK wanting to see a reduction in immigration. The twin
forces of globalisation and regionalisation have synchronically generated possibilities and
increasing discontent across class, race, gender, geographical and ideological lines. Increased
EU supranationality is seen within Britain as depletion of British sovereignty, territoriality
and autonomy (Grenade 2016). The ‘immigration problem’ foregrounds security concerns
and triggers social antagonism. As far as the pluralisation of identity at the stake of national
identity is concerned, even those who favour cosmopolitanism and plural group identities do
not outrightly reject national identity. They beckon for the internal transformation of nationstates and reformulation of nationalism that are more inclusive and adaptable to cultural
differences (Parekh 230-236). Even after the post-Cold War era the resurgence of
ethnonational conflict in the West and other parts of the world testifies to the appeal of
nationalism as a living ideology. Supersession or transcendence of nationality will not solve
the issue. Postnationalism consequently is incapable of accepting the liberal forms of both
state nationalism and minority nationalism (Kymlicka 2001).
Nonetheless, semi-defined and less convincing alternatives to national citizenship
should not be the agenda of concern rather an effort towards its expansion is necessary to
include those marginalised and susceptible to violence. The normative foundation of a
postnational citizenship may be so “thin and shallow that it can easily be swept away by the
tides of tribalism or nationalism” (Schuck 204). Instead, some form of distinct citizenship in
form of group rights that culminates into a broader view of politico-communal membership
Page 35 of 46
inclusive of different interests, positions and identities emerging from gender, ethnicity, race
and religion. An ethnically and religiously diverse country like India may be considered as a
noticeable example of an early incorporation of group-differentiated citizenship rights in the
ambit of a liberal secular state—way before the discussions about multicultural citizenship
brought the idea to the fore (Mitra 2013). National citizenship is still the best source of
people’s civil, political and social rights. It is national citizenship that can be of crucial
importance for the individual migrant’s life chances in cases of crisis related to law and order
and security threat arising out of terrorism. In such moment of greatest need, citizenship
means everything, and the difference between permanent residence and citizenship turns out
to be total. Postnationalists’ indifference to political citizenship is, for sure, peculiar. The
right to vote—the most important entitlement secured through national citizenship—is one
for which un-emancipated Jews, workers, women, native Americans, and African-Americans
struggled for decades, and only the sacrifice of blood achieved it. Noticeably, the denial of
suffrage to Jews, women, and Blacks was among the greatest liberal democratic injustices of
the last two centuries (Hansen 2009). And the postnational democracy cannot provide a
proper public sphere for opinion formation. Will Kymlicka suggests that democratic
participation by common citizens and the public sphere depend upon the shared language that
all citizens speak. That is to say linguistic/territorial political communities, i.e. nations,
remain the primary forum for democratic participation in the modern world. On transnational
level there is no shared language, hence, no effective public sphere. Another significant
dimension of nationalism is distributive justice which is attacked by postnationalist ideas.
Liberal nationalists refute cosmopolitans on the ground that it gives rigid choice – either to
cling to the principle of national self-determination with particularist attachments or to ignore
these attachments in favour of global duties (Miller 2007). The need of the hour is to seek a
theory of distributive justice that would provide equal importance to the right of self-
Page 36 of 46
determination, the freedom of peoples to choose and be responsible for their own future with
greater duties to non-nationals or the diasporas.
The diasporas are prime pillars to uphold both the nation-states and the postnational
condition in an incessant globalizing world. In the contemporary world order the multi-locale
diaspora cultures are not mandatorily defined by a specific geopolitical boundary. On the one
hand, the new diasporas of the late modern, late capitalist post-colonial world is making the
borders of nation-states porous through their transnational renditions which paves way for a
postnational world order where the ‘nation’ is left in a disorder and the ‘state’ in shifting
contours. On the other, amidst all such debates of the demise of nation-states in the age of
globalization, governments that reach out to ‘their’ diasporas are obviously amplifying their
economic power. They have begun to extend their sovereignty by offering concession on
citizenship or voting rights to overseas populations in return for political or financial aid.
Therefore, diaspora can serve to strengthen rather than weaken nation-states. We are
witnessing a different breed and creed of deterritorialised population of neo-diaspora that is
very complex in new ways, viz culturally, linguistically, religiously, politically, given the
intricacy of their belongingness and the sense of rootlessness. In our contemporary times, and
in future, diasporas can play a groundbreaking role in the formation of supernations like
China and India given their economically and politically powerful diasporas abroad. India
and China are perceived as emerging superpowers in the contemporary world (Mahtaney
2008). Together they are home to 40 percent of the world’s population and both are world’s
fastest growing economies. The large Indian diaspora facilitates India’s connections to the
global economy (Asian Development Outlook 2004) and, in case of China, investment
Page 37 of 46
inflows into Guangdong and other special economic zones come mainly from the overseas
Chinese diaspora (Mahtaney 2008). Hence, the new discourses on diaspora deal with ‘routes’
than with ‘roots’. The focus is on movements and connections rather than origins. The
emphasis is on ‘global people’ who do not live ‘in diaspora’, because global people do not
live either ‘at home’ or ‘in exile’. For global people, home is constantly shifting with shifting
attachments and purposes. They promulgate world citizenship which implies the joining of
the wisdom of humankind with latest geo-political and geo-technical reality to recognize the
entire world as one’s state.
Furthermore, if there is EU in West which proffers postnational paradigms, there is
SAARC in East which still struggles with its border policies/conflicts in South Asia making a
strong case for the existence of nation state even in the scenario discussed above. But the
South Asian diaspora has developed an acute transnational network through contract workers,
various kinds of professionals, technocrats and software experts who are working or settled
overseas that again defies the borders of their common Indian subcontinent origin and
assuages the bitterness prevailing in the homeland. Overall, the diasporas today are
cosmopolitans, nonaligned transnationals struggling within and against nation-states, striving
for coexistence in global technologies, market and politics with the rest of the world
Page 38 of 46
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Social
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