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SP36 - Transnational Lived Citizenship and the Rhythms of Development: The multiple performances of diaspora within and across borders

Convened by Tanja Müller (Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK) and Mohamed Bakhit (University of Khartoum, Sudan)

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The panel has as its starting point the ESRC (UK Economic and Social Research Council, Grant number: ES/S016589/1) funded research project: Transnational lived citizenship: Practices of citizenship as political belonging among emerging diasporas in the Horn of Africa. The project examines how diaspora populations establish different forms of political belonging in pursuit of their aspirations orientated towards their homeland, their current place of residence, and across a wider transnational social field. The importance of this field of investigation as well as practical developmental implications have come to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic, when diaspora-led forms of everyday humanitarianisms were often the only response to deal with the shock COVID-19 presented.

The project focuses on three urban spaces in the wider Horn of Africa, namely Nairobi, Khartoum and Addis Ababa, and here specifically on Ethiopian and Eritrean diaspora communities. It also is in dialogue with other research on similar themes conducted in these cities, and with a separate project lead by the proposer on transnational lived citizenship through creative production.

The body of emerging work from the project and its partners has highlighted the complex dynamics of lived citizenship and belonging, and how it interacts with changing political environments, locally, regionally and globally. It has also highlighted the importance of focusing on local dynamics when investigating transnational lives.

In this seed panel, we hope to do the following: Present some preliminary findings from the research project; discuss their implications for policy and practice; and relate those to other work on diaspora performances in global development. We also aim to interrogate the analytical value of the literature on lived citizenship and specifically the concept of transnational lived citizenship to better understand the changing rhythms of development.