Diaspora diplomacy, emotions and disruption

Principal Investigator:
Alina Dolea, CPD Research Fellow 2022-24

The COVID-19 pandemic has legitimized diaspora as a transnational actor in its own right in public diplomacy. More importantly, diasporas have emerged as disruptors, challenging their more traditional roles of agents, instruments, and partners in PD. This project aims to explore the neglected role of emotions in the study of diaspora diplomacy. Conceptually, it brings together strands of literature in PD, migration and diaspora studies, as well as IR with a focus on emotions to answer the key research question of “how can we integrate studies on emotions in diaspora diplomacy to understand their enabling but also their disruptive role?”. While emotions have started to be studied in PD, exploring systematically the role of emotions in diaspora diplomacy can actually offer new insights into the wider current debate on the public as a problem, as well as shed light on questions regarding disruption in PD.  Methodologically, it proposes an analysis of diasporas from within to unpack the seeming ‘uniformity’ of diaspora and the homeland loyalties conflated in the concept of citizen diplomat, as well as to capture contestation and challenges. Emotions in diaspora diplomacy are operationalized and explored through a series of interviews with representatives of diaspora groups and associations to identify the construction of emotional ties, a typology of roles and identities that diaspora representatives assume. While focused on the Romanian diaspora, this project can inform studies on other diasporas to trace emergent emotions and their potential disruptive impact. Proposing a critical perspective on emotions and transnationalism of diaspora, this research can ultimately advance the study and policy making in diaspora diplomacy. As such, it is of relevance to policymakers, practitioners, scholars, as well as journalists interested in understanding these increasingly complex diaspora emotional ties.