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New Zealand, like many countries, has recently shifted from disparaging emigrants to celebrating expatriates as heroes. What explains this change? The new government initiatives towards expatriates have been attributed to a neoliberal ‘diaspora strategy’, aimed at constructing emigrants and their descendants as part of a community of knowledge-bearing subjects, in order to help the New Zealand economy ‘go global’ (Larner 2007: 80). The research in this paper confirms that the new diaspora initiatives emerged from a process of neoliberal reform. However, it also highlights that, in the same period, older, inherited institutional frameworks for interacting with expatriates were being dismantled as part of a different dynamic within the same wider neoliberalization process. In this way, the research builds on and refines the ‘diaspora strategy’ concept by placing it within a broader analysis of institutional transformation through ‘creative destruction’. At the same time, this study opens up a wider research agenda aimed at revealing, understanding and explaining how states have related to diasporas before and beyond the era of neoliberalism.



Working paper


International Migration Institute

Publication Date




Total pages



New Zealand; diaspora strategies; multi-sited ethnography; extra-territorial, citizenship; creative destruction; neoliberalism