Diasporas, Development and Peacemaking in the Horn of Africa

Edited by Liisa Laakso and Petri Hautaniemi


Featuring a wealth of case-study material and insights from leading experts in the field, this highly original volume forces an important re-think in a contentious area of African politics and development.
Exiled populations, who increasingly refer to themselves as diaspora communities, hold a strong stake in the fate of their countries of origin. In a world becoming ever more interconnected, they engage in 'long-distance politics' towards, send financial remittances to and support social development in their homelands. Transnational diaspora networks have thus become global forces shaping the relationship between countries, regions and continents.

This important intervention, written by scholars working at the cutting edge of diaspora and conflict, challenges the conventional wisdom that diaspora are all too often warmongers, their time abroad causing them to become more militant in their engagement with local affairs. Rather, they can and should be a force for good in bringing peace to their home countries.

Featuring in-depth case studies from the Horn of Africa, including Somalia and Ethiopia, this volume presents an essential rethinking of a key issue in African politics and development.

Author Bio

Liisa Laakso is professor and dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. Previously she held the UNESCO Chair in Development and International Cooperation at the University of Jyväskylä.

Petri Hautaniemi is a former senior researcher in development studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. His dissertation in social anthropology was on Somali child migration and young men, and he has published a number of articles on related themes.He currently works as a senior adviser in the Department of Development Policy at the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Diasporas for peace and development - Petri Hautaniemi and Liisa Laakso
  • Part one: Contextualising the Horn of Africa and the diaspora
    • 1. Diaspora and multi-level governance for peace - Liisa Laakso
    • 2. Regional political history and the production of diasporas - Guenther Schlee
  • Part two: Case studies from the Horn of Africa
    • 3. Rebuilding Somaliland through economic and educational engagement - Markus Virgil Hoehne and Mohamed Hassan Ibrahim
    • 4. The Somali diaspora in conflict and peacebuilding: the Peace Initiative Programme - Mahdi Abdile
    • 5. The 2007 delegation of the Muslim diaspora to Ethiopia - Dereje Feyissa
    • 6. The Ethiopian diaspora and the Tigray Development Association - Bahru Zewde, Gebre Yntiso and Kassahun Berhanu
  • Part three: European approaches to diaspora engagement
    • 7. Interaction between Somali organizations and Italian and Finnish development actors - Petra Mezzetti, Valeria Saggiomo and Päivi Pirkkalainen
    • 8. Approaches to diaspora engagement in the Netherlands - Giulia Sinatti
    • 9. Norwegian collaboration with diasporas - Rojan Ezzati and Cindy Horst
  • Afterword - Petri Hautaniemi, Liisa Laakso and Mariko Sato


'The enriching volume presents a stimulating overview of the varied positions that members of diasporas hold – such as peacebuilders, investors and civic members – as well as extant gaps related to the study of diasporas, including theoretical frameworks and host country institutional incorporation and engagement.' Africa at LSE

'This collection successfully translates the nebulous term "diaspora" into precise human and policy terms. The case studies by African and European scholars generate new insights into both the potential and the limitations of "diaspora engagement" policies. The authors' clear conceptual and empirical analyses focus on the dynamic linkages between migrants from the Horn of Africa and Europe. These studies will be of value to students of migration, development and conflict, and the findings should inform donors as well as European and African policy-makers.'
David Styan, Birkbeck College

'This nuanced collection both identifies and transcends a theoretical vacuum in international and regional relations: how varieties of transnational communities or networks contribute to multilevel governance in a trio of somewhat fragile states in the Horn of Africa. Its comparative analyses of diasporas, religions and remittances go beyond realism and romanticism to juxtapose and advance conflict, development, migration and security studies in a way which resonates far beyond Africa and Europe.'
Timothy M. Shaw, University of Massachusetts Boston

'This carefully crafted collection not only provides a novel insight into the role of diaspora networks in the Horn of Africa and various European host countries, it is also a highly valuable contribution to the field of peace and conflict studies in general, as it lays out the case for a more nuanced approach to the role of diaspora networks in the process of both crafting peace and sustaining wars. As such it is highly recommended.'
Morten Bøås, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

'While focused on the Horn of Africa, this volume has relevance far beyond that region, as increasing scholarly and policy attention focuses on the developmental role of diaspora and migration. It draws together an impressive array of experts in the region and its diaspora, and adds complexity and nuance to contemporary debates of great significance in our transnational times.'
Neil Carrier, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford


Publication Date: 14 August 2014
248 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783600977
Hardback: 9781783600984
eBook ePub: 9781783601004
eBook PDF: 9781783600991
eBook Kindle: 9781783601011

Appears in

Why is peer review so important?

Learn more about the various types of peer review, why it’s so important, what the social and political considerations of peer review are and how we use it at Zed Books.