Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Diaspora, Home-State Governance and Transnational Political Mobilisation: A Comparative Case Analysis of Ethiopia and Kenya’s State Policy Towards their Diaspora

Kennedy Ebang Njikang


Aligned to studies that have established that state-diaspora engagement policies consist of a diversity of measures associated with different aims, this study provides a novel approach to such research. It involves investigating how leadership (through diaspora policies) is structured using language to ensure that the objectives of state-diaspora policies are persuasive enough to draw consensual support from the diaspora. Adopting a rhetorical analysis of multi-case data, this paper compares how the notion of diaspora is used within Ethiopia and Kenya’s state-diaspora policy documents and how their understanding of their diaspora shapes the actual political mobilisation of it. The paper demonstrates that by selecting certain themes and by treating diaspora as a powerful strategy, either by segregating it from or including it in the political activities of a nation, domestic governments can strongly influence the political narrative.  Results further show that when the diaspora faces state power not all categories of it are equally accepted or offered the same political rights.



state and diaspora; policies; citizenship; political participation

Full Text:



Adamson, F. (2012). Constructing the diaspora: Diaspora identity politics and transnational social movements. In T. Lyons, & P. Mandaville (Eds.) Politics From Afar: Transnational Diasporas and Networks (pp.25-42). Columbia University Press.

Anthias, F. (1998). Evaluating 'diaspora': Beyond ethnicity? Sociology, 32(3), 557-580.

Bernal, V. (2017). Diaspora and the afterlife of violence: Eritrean national narratives and what goes without saying. American Anthropologist, 119(1), 23-34.

Beyene, H. G. (2015). Are African diasporas development partners, peace-makers or spoilers? The case of Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria. Diaspora Studies, 8(2), 145-161.

Burawoy, M., (1991). The extended case method. In M. Burawoy, A. Burton, A.A. Ferguson, & K.J. Fox (Eds.). Ethnography unbound power and resistance in the modern metropolis (pp. 271-287). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Central Bank of Kenya. (2017). Bank supervision annual report 2017. Nairobi. Retrieved 18 November 2018 from

Collyer, M. (2013). Introduction: Locating and narrating emigration nations. In M. Collyer (Ed.) Emigration Nations (pp. 1-24). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Délano, A., & Gamlen, A. (2014). Comparing and theorizing state-diaspora relations. Political Geography, 41, 43-53.

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Diaspora Policy 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2018 from

Finlayson, A. (2007). From beliefs to arguments: Interpretive methodology and rhetorical political analysis. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 9(4), 545-563.

Gamlen, A. (2006). Diaspora engagement policies: What are they, and what kinds of states use them? Working Paper (32). Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS): University of Oxford.

Gamlen, A. (2014). Diaspora institutions and diaspora governance. International Migration Review, 48(1_suppl), 180-217.

Hart, R. P., & Daughton, S. M. (2015). Modern rhetorical criticism. London: Routledge.

Horst, C. (2013). The depoliticisation of diasporas from the horn of Africa: From refugees to transnational aid workers. African Studies, 72(2), 228-245.

Hussen, T. (2010). Ethiopia's experience on migration. Unpublished Report. Ethiopian Expatriate Affairs, Government of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Kiamba, A., & Bachmann, V. (2015). Kenya-EU relations: Perspectives and expectations. In: V. Bachmann V., & M. Müller M. (Eds.) Perceptions of the EU in Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa (pp. 145-164). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kleist, N. (2008). Mobilising 'the diaspora': Somali transnational political engagement. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 34(2), 307-323.

Kuschminder, K., & Siegel, M. (2016). Determinants of diaspora policy engagement of Ethiopians in the Netherlands. African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, 9(2), 184-199.

Leblang, D. (2017). Harnessing the diaspora: Dual citizenship, migrant return remittances. Comparative Political Studies, 50(1), 75-101.

Levitt, P., & De la Dehesa, R. (2003). Transnational migration and the redefinition of the state: Variations and explanations. Ethnic and racial studies, 26(4), 587-611.

Lyons, T. (2014). Diaspora Lobbying and Ethiopian Politics. Diaspora Lobbies and the US Government: Convergence and Divergence in Making Foreign Policy, 163.

Lyons, T. (2007) Conflict-generated diasporas and transnational politics in Ethiopia. Conflict, Security & Development 7(4): 529-549.

Orjuela, C. (2008). The identity politics of peacebuilding: Civil society in war-torn Sri Lanka. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India.

Østergaard-Nielsen, E. (Ed.). (2003). International migration and sending countries: perceptions, policies and transnational relations. New York: Springer.

Rapp, C. (2011). Aristotle's rhetoric. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Ratha, D., S. Mohapatra., C. Ozden., S. Plaza., W. Shaw., and A. Shimeles. (2011) Leveraging Migration for Africa: remittances, skills, and investments. Washington, DC: The World Bank,

Republic of Kenya Diaspora Policy (2014). Retrieved on 30 September 2018 from

Siisiäinen, M. (2015). Late-modern hegemony and the changing role of voluntary associations in Finland. Alternatives, 40(3-4), 264-280.

Skjerdal, T. S. (2011). Journalists or activists? Self-identity in the Ethiopian diaspora online community. Journalism, 12(6), 727-744.

Smith, M. P. (2003). Transnationalism, the state, and the extraterritorial citizen. Politics & Society, 31(4), 467-502.

Tölölyan, K. (1996). Rethinking diaspora(s): Stateless power in the transnational moment. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 5(1), 3-36.

World Bank, Remittance Inflows to GDP for Ethiopia, retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;

March 2018.

Yilmaz, S. (2010). State, power and hegemony. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 1(3), 192-205.

Yin, R. K. (2015). Qualitative research from start to finish. London: Guilford Publications.

Werbner, P. (2000). "Introduction: The materiality of diaspora-between aesthetic and "real" politics." Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 9(1), 5-20.


  • There are currently no refbacks.