ABSTRACT

Engaging diasporas in development in their countries of origin has been one of the avenues of the migration-development nexus explored at the Global Forums on Migration and Development (GFMD). While the interactions of migration and development have been discussed with alternating optimism and pessimism over the past four decades or so (De Haas 2010; Skeldon 2009), explicit interest in organised engagements of diaspora in development has been expressed more recently. States in both the Global North and Global South have started to develop policies for engaging diasporas in development ‘back home’ (Brinkerhoff 2009; Turner and Kleist 2013; Sinatti and Horst 2014) in the twenty-first century. Literature on migration and development, including diaspora engagements in development, has tended to focus on the potential of migrants’ remittances for development (Bailey 2010). Based on the sheer volume of remittances, by now widely acknowledged to be double or more of the amounts contributed by foreign aid or foreign direct investment into many countries, this focus on remittance is hardly surprising (Ratha et al. 2010). However, remittances are primarily private money, which means that they cannot be treated in the same way as public funds, such as state foreign aid (Carling 2005; Horst et al. 2014). Despite the acknowledgment that remittances are private money, the focus on ‘leveraging remittances for development’ has been persistent during the past decade, both in academic and in policy circles (Kapur 2005; Ratha 2007). Critics have questioned the ways in which development is conceptualised in the context of migration and development, and who it is directed towards (Raghuram 2009; Mercer et al. 2009). Northern states’ involvement with migration and development, with regard to so-called voluntary return programmes being financed over foreign aid budgets (Cassarino 2010) in particular, are indicative of the ambiguities within this field (van Houte and Davids 2008; Sinatti 2011). Migration control measures are also suggested to be a hindrance to the fulfilment of migration-development objectives, and contribute to fragmented policies within the field of migration (Åkesson 2011). Simultaneously, states in the ‘Global South’ are also adopting policies with the explicit aim of encouraging diaspora engagements in development in their country of origin (see for examples on Argentina, Jamaica and Tanzania respectively Margheritis 2007; Sives 2012; Hansen 2012).