Prof. Dr. Paul Tabar (Lebanese American University)
Friday, 27. November 2015, 19:00-21:00
Within the workshop „Migration Studies: Reflection and Challenges“, which is part of the DFG-Project, a public lecture was given by Prof. Dr. Paul Tabar (Lebanese American University) at the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB).
This presentation consists of two parts: the first discusses the concept of 'political remittances' by examining the context in which it first appeared as part of the growing interest in studying migration and transnationalism. In so doing, this part briefly reviews the current writings on this concept and what benefits and (possible) limitations it brings with it to migration studies. Then, this part suggests ways to further develop the concept of ‘political remittances’ similar to what has been done to the concept of ‘social remittances’ as coined by Peggy Levitt and developed by her and other scholars. To better understand ‘political remittances‘, we need to further show how they are brought into being, how they travel back ‘home‘ and the differential impact they have on ‘home‘ politics. In addition, the presentation makes a case for a conceptual distinction between the ‘transnational field‘ as opposed to the ‘diasporic field‘ and shows the usefulness of conceptualizing ‘political remittances’ as part of the latter. It is contended that the ‘diasporic field’ is the appropriate conceptual framework within which to analyze the contested formation, trajectory and impact of ‘political remittances‘.
The second part of the presentation will use the case of Lebanon to show the analytical usefulness of the above perspective. Based on interviews conducted in Lebanon and three other receiving countries, i.e. Australia, USA and Canada, this part presents the findings of these interviews on the question of the voting right of Lebanese migrants abroad. Examining these views reveals the complexity of voting in a transnational context and associated challenges not only to the political process in the country of origin but also to the migrant community abroad. What are these challenges and how are they tackled by both the 'home' political elite and the politically active elements within the Lebanese Diaspora? At a broader level, this part concludes by showing the decentered character of the diasporic filed in Lebanon
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