Date of Award

5-1-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

School

School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. F.S.J. Ledgister

Second Advisor

Dr. Abi Awomolo

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Lobban

Abstract

This study addresses the questions of what factors impact diasporas' involvement in the development of their homeland and how diasporas demonstrate their support for that development by analyzing the Cape Verdean diaspora in the United States and its relationship with the homeland, Cape Verde. I contend that diasporas maintain different levels of engagement with their homeland. This connection changes over time, based on conditions in the host country and the homeland, thus affecting the level of intensity of diasporas' engagement with the homeland. The research findings complicate how we conceptualize political mobilization and community organizing. They incorporate informal social and political networks as viable ways for diasporas' involvement in homeland development, into the existing theories on diasporas, development, and the impact of remittances and brain drain. In the Cape Verdean case, informal transnational activities and networks are alternatives for this unskilled diaspora community that lacks the resources to flourish otherwise. This study also adds the Cape Verdean case to the broader scholarship on contemporary African diasporas. The factors conducive to diaspora investment in homeland development include: stable homeland government, policies that are inclusive of diaspora political participation and business investments, and diaspora support through diplomatic relations with host country. Since its independence, Cape Verde has emerged as an example for other African nations, with a stable democracy and steady economic growth, while introducing policies inclusive of its diaspora. Most Cape Verdeans in the U.S. have not yet adapted to the Western system of group mobilization and political participation through formal networks. Through elite interviews and a survey of the masses, I found that most Cape Verdeans are not registered voters and do not vote in the U.S. or Cape Verde, and even those eligible for U.S. citizenship, often opt not to apply. Although most Cape Verdeans in the U.S. do not participate in electoral politics and formal organizations, they demonstrate their connection with the homeland through social and cultural events, such as weddings, funerals, and sporting events. In these informal spaces, they engage in discussions and form opinions on issues related to socio- economic and political conditions in the homeland and host country. Within the few social and cultural organizations that support the homeland through fundraising and cultural events, the survey findings revealed there is an antagonistic relationship between the masses and leaders of these organizations. The masses demonstrated lack of trust in the leaders, while organizational leaders argued there is a great level of apathy among the masses. It might take one or more generations of academically trained Cape Verdeans to change this pattern, transforming the community from an unskilled to a skilled diaspora.

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