Research Projects

Remittances to War-Torn Societies

Led by Stephen Lubkemann, Anthropology

Our activities in the next two years will specifically include two international collaborative efforts that bring together research/researchers of war-torn diasporas. The first will question conventional assumptions about remittances and re-evaluate their role in post-conflict societies. The "consumptive functions" of remittances are necessary for basic subsistence and for the process of consolidating and securing peace in contexts where demobilized soldiers and unemployed youth have few economic prospects. The second activity will explore the social and political impact of remittances on homelands, for example, their role in re-negotiating social obligations between diasporas and homeland family members, re-configuring gender roles and generational power configurations, and re-organizing the power base and concerns that inform local and even national political dynamics.

Transnational Washington: Leveraging Diasporic Entrepreneurship in a Global City

Led by Marie Price, Geography

This research (implemented in partnership with the GW Center for International Business Education and Research) seeks to examine the networks and institutions that sustain transnational entrepreneurship at the metropolitan scale. We will compare a range of diaspora groups and ask:

  • where and how they build local and global entrepreneurship;
  • what sectors of the economy they are most active in;
  • what the role of ethnic and social capital is in creating entrepreneurship; and
  • how this capital is most effectively integrated with the economies of global cities.

By shifting analysis from the scale of the nation-state to that of the metropolitan area, this research highlights the often invisible local contexts, institutions and networks facilitating (or impeding) entrepreneurship among a range of diaspora groups. Representative diaspora groups from Latin America, Asia, and Africa will be examined.

Mobilizing Diaspora Homeland Investment Capital

Led by Liesl Riddle, International Business; Tjai Nielsen, Management

Diaspora members remit investment capital to their homelands in several ways, including through transnational entrepreneurship, foreign direct investment, and portfolio investment. The central aim of this project is to identify effective mobilization strategies for homeland governments, diaspora organizations, multilateral organizations, and investment companies that are targeting diaspora members for homeland investment. We pursue this goal through a three-pronged approach:

  1. measuring diaspora homeland investment interest (including psychological and sociological motivations);
  2. identifying marketing best practices, particularly the role of investment promotion agencies, including market segmentation, product/service, and promotion strategies; and
  3. identifying and identifying strategies for reducing diaspora investment obstacles.

The Role of Diasporas vis-à-vis the International Development Industry

Led by Jennifer Brinkerhoff, Public Administration and International Affairs

This research agenda explores how diasporas might more effectively interface with the efforts of the international development industry. The scope includes diaspora philanthropy as represented by diaspora organizations that may range from hometown associations providing collective remittances, to professional associations providing knowledge transfer and more formalized NGOs implementing development projects. The research also includes the development industry's efforts to solicit participation from the diaspora. Of particular interest across these phenomena is the reception of diaspora contributions within the homeland societies. Building on research to date, a new project will examine the role of diasporas in rebuilding governments in post-conflict societies.

photo compilation: Charlie Glaser and Paul Williams

Woodrow Wilson Fellows

Congratulations to Professors Charles Glaser and Paul Williams, selected as members of the Woodrow Wilson Center 2014–2015 Fellowship Class.