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Reorienting diaspora : China and India as franchise nations

Leong, Susan (2011) Reorienting diaspora : China and India as franchise nations. In Caluya, Gilbert (Ed.) Cultural Studies Association of Australasia Conference 2011, 22-24 November 2011, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

In this paper, I outline a new approach towards media and diaspora using the concept of the ‘franchise nation’. It is my contention that current theories on migration, media and diaspora with their emphasis on exile, multiple belongings, hybrid identities and their representations are inadequate to the task of explaining the emergence of a new trend in diaspora, home and host nation relationship. This, I suggest, is a recent shift most notable in the attitudes of the Chinese and Indian governments toward their diasporas. From earlier eras where Chinese sojourners were regarded as disloyal and Indians overseas left to fend for themselves, Chinese and Indian migrants are today directly addressed and wooed by their nations of origin.

This change is motivated in part by the realisation that diasporic populations are, in fact, resources that can bring significant influence to bear on home nation interests within host nations. Such sway in foreign lands gains greater importance as China and India are, by virtue of their economic rise and prominence on the world stage, subject to ever more intense international scrutiny. Members of these diasporas have willingly responded to these changes by claiming and cultivating pivotal roles for themselves within host nations as spokespersons, informants and representatives, trading on their assumed familiarity with home cultures, language and commerce.

As a result, China and India have initiated a number of statecraft strategies in recent years to (re)engage their diasporas. Both nations have identified media as amongst the key instruments of their strategies. New media enhances the ability of all parties—home and host states, institutions and individuals—to participate, interact and reciprocate. While China’s centralised government has utilised the notion of soft power (ruan shili) to describe its practices, India’s efforts are diffused along the lines of nation branding via myriad labels like India Inc. and the Global Indian.

To explain this emergent trend, I propose a new framework, franchise nation, defined as a reciprocal relationship between nation and diaspora that is characterised by mutual obligations and benefits. In appropriating this phrase from Stephenson, I liken contemporary statecraft operating in China and India to a business franchising system wherein benefits may be economic or cultural and; those thus connected signal their willingness for mutual exchange and concede a sense of obligation. As such, franchise nation is not concerned with remote, unidirectional interference in home nation affairs a la Anderson’s ‘long-distance nationalism’. Rather, it is a framework that seeks to reflect more closely the dynamism of the relationship between diaspora, home and host nations.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 47605
Item Type: Conference Paper
Keywords: Diaspora, Franchise Nation, India, China, Sovereignty from Afar
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Asian Cultural Studies (200202)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Migrant Cultural Studies (200208)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Current > Schools > Journalism, Media & Communication
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Susan Leong
Deposited On: 12 Dec 2011 08:43
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2012 12:37

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