Toward a Translocal Theory of Diaspora: The Case of Internally Displaced Crimeans

Authors: Austin Charron*, University of Kansas
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Eurasia, Political Geography
Keywords: Ukraine, Crimea, Diaspora, IDPs, Migration, Transnationalism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Studio 4, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Diasporas are typically defined as inherently transnational, emerging only within communities of migrants who have left an original homeland by crossing international borders. Because it relies upon a problematic methodological binary between international and internal migration, this definition falls prey to Agnew’s “territorial trap,” and neglects the diasporic experiences and identities of internal migrants within ethnically and culturally diverse states. Using Ukraine's Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) from Russian-occupied Crimea as a timely case study, this paper seeks to advance an alternative "translocal" approach to diaspora that is attentive to discourses of belonging and exclusion within migrant communities whether or not they have crossed an international border. Although the ethnically diverse Crimean IDPs remain within the state where they are citizens, most identify strongly with their estranged Crimea and consider it their homeland rather than Ukraine as a whole. However, most IDPs have left occupied Crimea voluntarily and embrace a vision of Ukrainian civic identity that has surged since the 2013-2014 Euromaidan protests. Some IDPs from Crimea have begun referring to themselves as a diaspora, while others uphold the normative view that internal migrants cannot constitute a diaspora, and to label them as such is an implicit recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea. Through a discussion of ethnographic fieldwork conducted within communities of Crimean IDPs, this paper argues that their experiences help point the way toward a more critical, less state-centric theory of diaspora.

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