Embedded cosmopolitanism and the politics of obligation: the Ghanaian diaspora and development.
Environment and Planning A, 38(5) pp. 867–883.
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The paper analyses how identities and obligations operate within the spaces of transnational communities and how this affects development. Within spatially diffuse communities identities are fluid and overlapping, as are the obligations to multiple others - be that kin, ethnic group or nation – in different localities. The paper is concerned with the institutions through which these identities are formed and obligations are realised. These include families, clans, hometown associations, and religious organisations, which link people ‘abroad’ to people ‘at home’. I understand these spaces as a form of public sphere involving a ‘deterritorialised’ citizenship, which has been termed ‘embedded cosmopolitanism’. In this way obligations are not legally defined but operate as part of the moral universe of those concerned. The case study is based upon recent fieldwork on Ghanaians in the UK and their connections to other Ghanaians outside Ghana and to those at home. Research reveals how these complex networks of affiliation operate as well as the ways in which the state seeks to ‘capture’ support from them and how migrants selectively redefine both ethnic identities and family boundaries.
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