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Making noise : the transnational politics of Aceh and East Timor in the diaspora Fallon, Karla S.


This dissertation analyzes the transnational politics of two new or incipient diasporas, the Acehnese and East Timorese. It examines their political roles and activities in and across several countries in the West (Europe, North America, and Australia) as well as their impact on the “homeland” or country of origin, during and after armed conflict. It suggests that the importance of diaspora participation in conflict and conflict settlement is not solely or even primarily dependent on the material resources of the diaspora. Instead it is the ideational and political resources that may determine a diaspora’s ability to ensure its impact on the homeland, on the conflict, and its participation in the conflict settlement process. This study adopts a constructivist approach, process-tracing methods, and an analytical framework that combines insights from diaspora politics and theories on transnational advocacy networks (TANs). It concludes that the Aceh and East Timor cases support the proposition that diasporas are important and dynamic political actors, even when they are small, new, and weak. These cases also support the proposition that the political identities and goals of diasporas can be transformed over time as a diaspora is replenished with new members who have new or different ideas, as factions within diasporas gain power vis-à-vis others, and/or as the political partners available to the diaspora in the hostland and internationally change or broaden. The analysis of a diaspora’s relationship with a transnational advocacy network or networks (TAN) yields new insights into conflict settlement processes. Diasporans potentially learn from, contribute to, and benefit from TAN strategies and tactics. The TAN itself can help project the political influence of the diaspora. More significantly, the diaspora TAN relationship, in certain cases, can have a transformative effect on the diaspora, potentially moderating its views and positions, and thereby facilitating conflict settlement. Moreover, the moderating influence of the diaspora-TAN relationship may have implications for the post-conflict consolidation of democracy, human rights norms, and civil society.

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