Description: British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 2019. While the literature has expounded diaspora’s involvement in homeland politics through lobbying efforts to influence hostland foreign policies, involvement in homeland conflicts and peace-building, this paper addresses a less-explored area in the diaspora literature related to the development of democracy through transnational civil society building. Using the case study of the Iraqi diaspora in Sweden, this paper assesses co-development projects financed by Sweden’s International Development Corporation Agency (SIDA) between Swedish institutional partners and Iraqi diaspora organizations from 2004 to 2008. Looking at both the perspective of the diaspora and public officials in Sweden, the paper problematizes the notion of diaspora as development partners and provides a nuanced understanding and new insights into the opportunities, challenges and limitations of diasporic initiatives aimed at supporting homeland civil society. Diaspora initiatives, it is argued, need to consider homeland security, understandings of development and goals, as well as homeland social and political contexts for exploring the opportunities and limitations of diasporic contributions. This is important for understanding both how and when diaspora’s involvement is to be supported, especially in conflict or post-conflict settings.
Published: Feb. 15, 2019