Reading diasporic engagements through the lens of citizenship: Turkey as a test case

Diaspora policies have recently become prominent for an increasing number of states. While the growing body of literature on new diaspora policies and institutions has shown these as a sign of a state’s willingness to include populations from abroad into the polity, an equally new adjacent literature has emphasised the exclusive and controlling aspect of extra-territorial power of authoritarian states. The authors of this article argue that a consideration of co-occurrence of positive and negative diaspora politics is needed for a holistic understanding of state-led transnationalism and its contested relationship to national territory and popular sovereignty. In this article, they build on the example of Turkish policies, which on the one hand took considerable steps to include its citizens abroad and on the other continued the exclusion of the ‘enemies of the state’ and re-defined the limits of political membership at home and abroad. By analysing the new diasporic institutional practices, the enfranchisement of external citizens and the right to exit along with loss of citizenship provisions, the authors show that Turkish state policy disrupts the assumed holy trinity of nation-state-territory forging a de-territorialised unity between internal and external citizens, as well as a de-territorialised division along the lines of party loyalty. Looking at diasporic engagements in all three dimensions – institutional, political and legal-through the lens of citizenship, the authors demonstrate that they are neither the extension of a heavy handed extra-territorial state power nor of an all-inclusive diaspora policy but a more complex combination of the two.

Zeynep Yanasmayan and Zeynep Kaşlı, Reading diasporic engagements through the lens of citizenship: Turkey as a test case, Political Geography, 2019.