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Development and Diaspora: Ghana and its Migrants

Nieswand, Boris

Sociologus, Vol. 59 (2009), Iss. 1: pp. 17–31

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1Boris Nieswand, Max-Planck-Institut zur Erforschung multireligiöser und multiethnischer Gesellschaften (MMG), Abteilung für soziokulturelle Vielfalt, Hermann-Föge-Weg 11, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.

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Abstract

The recent emphasis on the link between development and diasporic activities does not only reflect social changes, like the increase in migrant remittances, but also facilitates the building of institutions for the political and social inclusion of migrants in their country of origin. This article shows that the Ghanaian “diaspora” is not a social unit that predated the new discourse on transcontinental labour migration but rather emerged in its course. Institutional slots were created for Ghanaian migrant associations and individuals in the receiving countries to act as representatives of the Ghanaian “diaspora”. In this framework transnational development rituals have become an important means for legitimising migrant organisations and their claims to political participation in their country of origin. The postcolonial imaginary of development and its icons, in particular hospitals, schools and public infrastructure, provide a symbolical background against which migrants and state representatives re-negotiate questions of social status, citizenship and identity. The symbolical power of the discourse of development and diaspora helps to reconfigure older discourses of belonging and citizenship and to adapt them to the conditions of transnational mass migration.

Zusammenfassung

Entwicklung und Diaspora: Ghana und seine Migranten

Die aktuelle Diskussion über den Einfluss von Migranten auf die Entwicklung ihres Herkunftslandes reflektiert nicht nur veränderte gesellschaftlichen Realitäten, sondern schafft gleichzeitig auch Partizipationsmöglichkeiten, innerhalb derer die Inklusion von Migranten in ihr Herkunftsland erst hergestellt wird. Die “ghanaische Diaspora” ist, wie anhand des Falles von Ghanaern in Deutschland gezeigt wird, keine an sich existierende soziale Einheit, sondern formierte sich erst im Zuge der Neubewertung von transnationaler Migration aus Ghana. Diaspora-Politiken kreieren soziale Räume für Migrantenorganisationen und Individuen, innerhalb derer sie als legitime Repräsentanten der Migranten in den Zuwanderungsländern agieren können. Kollektive Entwicklungsrituale sind in diesem Kontext von besonderer Bedeutung. Sie legitimieren Migrantenorganisationen und deren Ansprüche auf politische und soziale Teilhabe im Herkunftsland. Der postkoloniale ghanaische Entwicklungsdiskurs und seine modernistischen Symbole, insbesondere Krankenhäuser, Schulen und öffentliche Infrastruktur, liefern einen symbolischen Hintergrund, der es Migranten in Ghana ermöglicht, sozialen Status, Bürgerrechte und Identitäten neu zu verhandeln. In diesem Sinne trägt die Debatte über den Zusammenhang von Entwicklung und Migration dazu bei, Zugehörigkeiten umzudefinieren und an die gesellschaftlichen Bedingungen von transnationaler Massenmigration anzupassen.