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The University of Oxford has won a £1.74 million grant from the Leverhulme Trust for a research programme on ‘The Impact of Diasporas’

The programme bid was coordinated and written by Robin Cohen (IMI), Nicholas Van Hear (Centre on Migration, Policy and Society) and Alan Gamlen (IMI). The bid also includes scholars based in the Refugee Studies Centre; the African Studies Centre; the School of Geography and the Environment; the Department of Politics and International Relations; and the Faculty of History.


Arising either from attempts to escape violent conflict or from a desire to enhance life chances, diasporas are among the most prominent and controversial manifestations of increased globalization. The connection between migrants and people who have stayed at home has profound effects on societies in the country of origin and the country of destination, as well as on the diasporas themselves.

Diaspora members may seek or be propelled down different pathways. They may spread progressive attitudes, or they may become enclaves of intolerance. Diasporas are feared and loved, appearing both as traitors and champions. They are also heterogeneous populations, developed into collectivities through the actions of individuals and groups, who steer diasporas along different trajectories, towards different ends. We identify three fundamental dynamics relating to the formation, maintenance, and impacts of diasporas: 

Connecting: the way that diasporas create networks encompassing those back home, others in diaspora, and their imagined communities based on co-ethnicity or other identities.

Contesting: the contradictory processes of inclusion of diasporas within and exclusion from territorially-bound communities, and the emergence of potentially conflicting identities.

Converging: the way in which diasporic communities de-emphasise their origins and blend with indigenous or other migrant communities.

The fundamental question to be addressed by the research programme is: what are the impacts of these diaspora dynamics? We will integrate humanities and social science perspectives in order to investigate through imaginatively selected examples the social, economic, political and cultural impacts of these three dynamics of diaspora. We will examine why, how, where and when particular impacts arise from particular trajectories, and who initiates and experiences these impacts.

The co-applicants are:

Professor Robin Cohen, Director, International Migration Institute (Principal Investigator)

Professor  David Anderson,  Director, African Studies Centre

Professor Michael Keith, Director, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society

Professor Linda McDowell, Director, St John’s College Research Centre

Professor Roger Zetter, Director, Refugee Studies Centre

See Oxford Leverhulme Diasporas Programme for more information. Visit the Leverhulme Trust website for more information about the trust's work.