News from Apr 18, 2018
Diasporas have emerged as powerful, if contentious, actors with a complex impact on global political processes. This includes the provision of governance to their homelands in the form of remittances but also through more direct involvement in the provision of public goods and services. Puzzlingly, governance research, which empirically investigates public goods provision by state and non-state actors alike, has largely steered clear of investigating diasporas. This paper argues that the reason for this blind spot is that diasporas pose an uncomfortable conceptual challenge to governance researchers. By taking a diaspora perspective on governance, we can see that state-centrism still has a firm, if elusive, grip on much governance research, which manifests as an insistence to differentiate between external and internal actors. It is this inbuilt assumption, that external and internal actors have quintessentially different properties, which does not match the often ambivalent quality of diasporas as they engage in governance in their homelands. This article will tease out some of the contradictions inherent in governance research by thinking about governance through diasporas and point out ways in which diaspora research itself has addressed the problem of state-centrism.