RETURNED DIASPORA, NATIONAL IDENTITY AND POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IN LATVIA AND LITHUANIA
Skulte, Jennifer Annemarie
MetadataShow full item record
The dissertation looks at the phenomenon of diaspora political participation in their homelands through focusing on one aspect of diaspora homeland political action: holding political leadership positions in the homeland. Specifically, the research asks: When are returned diasporans able to enter into political leadership in their homelands and how do they act as political leaders? Furthermore, does this hold across countries or are the factors allowing for returned diaspora to become political leaders country-specific? The research focuses on two of the three Baltic states, Latvia and Lithuania. Each country has witnessed significant returned diaspora participation in national political leadership as well as share a number of characteristics. In the research, when and how returned diaspora enter political leadership and how they act as political leaders in the countries is investigated through intensive field work and other research, analyzed, and then compared across countries. Characteristics that differentiate returned diaspora individuals from non-returned diaspora, here, "natives," are highlighted and analyzed. Overall, the research and analysis yields three important findings. Return diaspora enter homeland political leadership when there are political opportunities to do so. These opportunities are created by regime change, how political institutions and processes are structured and how national identity is formally and informally defined. Furthermore, returned diaspora political leaders display characteristics and actions that seem to be rooted in both their experience and time abroad as well as rooted in their identity as members of diasporas with strong ties to specific homelands. They also act in the political realm in different ways relative to natives and draw support and information from different national and international networks. This research adds to the body of knowledge on the institutional and cultural legacies of Sovietization. The research also highlights the importance of how national identity is defined in creating political opportunities for returned diasporans to enter homeland politics. While the case of diaspora impact on postcommunist Baltic politics may be rooted in a specific historical context, the more general impact of diasporas on politics in their homelands is a phenomenon with which not only academia but real politics will need to contend.