Brain Storming: Diaspora Research Today: Opportunities and Collaboration

Diaspora Research Today: Opportunities and Collaboration

24th May 2014 at 6 p.m.,

Concept Note for Brainstorming among the GRFDT Members


This discussion is about the diaspora as an academic subject, its evolution and possible contour in the future. How do we make our research on diaspora more meaningful keeping in the view the changing dynamics of society? Are we taking challenges of researching the something unique? How to prepare ourselves for collaborative research?  How to remain relevant and meaningful as a research community? What role can GRFDT perform based on our experience in last two years? Can we promote some of the best practices so that our chances of collaboration at global level become more relevant? Can our research is worthy of generating finance and funding at national and international level? What is the future of researchers in diaspora? These are some of the basic questions but never have we delved detail into this as a research group. These are some of the issues we may need to take as an individual researcher and as research forum.

Contextualising Diaspora

We all have known that it has had its origin in the context of jews and the term has been used since 80s and popularised in media and academics towards the end of 20th century. However we also observe how its evolution of the term “diaspora” started from a particular context of Jews exile to almost every community that are deteritorised i.e international migrants, refugees, transnational families etc. The concept assumed unprecedented importance in the context of developing and underdeveloped countries looking towards their own people and vice versa.  The concept of diaspora also assumed importance due to the attention it got from national governments across the globe, UN bodies (UNDP, UNESCO, ILO, WB etc.) and the diaspora civil society organisations. They have touched diversity of issues that not only made diaspora popular but also opened up new challenges to work with the phenomena. Many of these areas are yet to be studied by the academics.

Similarly the research on diaspora as well as its policy thrust is much skewed. In the context of Indian diaspora, it is the elites, NRIs who are getting more privileged position in policy, research and academic debates rather than the issues related to women, dalits, minorities and marginal section in the diaspora. As a research forum can we play a role in promoting more inclusive research and hence creating policy environment toward more inclusive approach?

There are many areas that need to be pursued strongly are:

·         Diaspora and Development: Knowledge Diaspora, Investment, Remittances,

·         Diaspora and Marginalised Communities: Dalits, Women, Labour Diasporas etc.

·         Diasporas in India: African, Chinese, Tibetans, Portuguese, Spanish etc. There are about 20-30 communities living in India but we have never thought of them as a research worthy subject.

·         History of Indian Diaspora, Diasporas in India

·         Diaspora in the School/ University Curriculum. Generate literature and then publish research papers.

·         Collaboration with other diaspora research groups in India and across the globe.

·         Engage with Multilateral Institutions and national Governments on diaspora issues: Invite resource person; prepare documents/ research that will be relevant for the government to take action

·         Engaging with media. We can write and publish. Create public awareness on the issue of diaspora.


The importance of diaspora research is definitely growing. 230 million people who constitute about 3 % of global population are international migrants. India’s share is also phenomenal. In terms of economic, social and political consequences the international migration is a hotly debated issue today. There are challenges to take up these issues so that we can contribute to the policy and academics in a great way.

The mushrooming growth of institutions across the globe is indication that the thrust on diaspora and related issues are growing phenomenally. GRFDT compiled about 100 institutions that are working on the issues, 90 % of them have come up very recently. We in India are better positioned to work on the issue as India has one of the largest share in the global diaspora population.



Time and Place:

Date:   Sunday, May 25, 2014
Venue:   Near JNU library
Address:   Near JNU library
City/Twon:   New Delhi
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