Human Geopolitics: States, Emigrants and the Rise of Diaspora Institutions

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Guest Speaker:  Associate Professor Alan Gamlen, Monash University

Presented with the Migration and Mobility Research Network.

This is a free event. Bookings are not required.

Human geopolitics, the competition for population rather than territory, is an essential but weakly understood dimension of world politics today. Such competition has preceded violent conflict throughout history, but has been muted since the Treaties of Westphalia laid the territorial foundations of the modern international system in the mid-seventeenth century. Today, however, human geopolitics is being resurrected in unanticipated ways, as governments are enabled and encouraged to engage their emigrant diasporas.

How and why is this happening? Until now the majority of research attention has focused on questions of immigration policy in a handful of wealthy migrant destination countries, largely ignoring the emigration policies that preoccupy the world's many migrant-origin states. This talk, based on a recently published book, addresses that research imbalance, by focusing on the overlooked sending side of migration policy.

Drawing on data covering all UN members across the post-WWII period, and fieldwork with high-level policy makers across 60 states and a dozen international organisations, the study charts the re-emergence of human geopolitics through the global spread of diaspora institutions, government ministries and offices dedicated to emigrants and their descendants. It calls for the development of stronger guiding principles and evaluation frameworks to govern these new state-diaspora relations in an era of unprecedented global interdependence.

Alan Gamlen is Associate Professor of Geography at Monash University and a Research Associate at Oxford University. He is Founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Migration Studies (Oxford University Press), Co-Editor of the book series Global Migration and Social Change (Bristol University Press), and author of  Human Geopolitics: States, Emigrants and the Rise of Diaspora Institutions (Oxford University Press 2019). Alan holds a doctorate in Geography from the University of Oxford.