When the diaspora returns home: Ambivalent encounters with the ethnic homeland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In recent decades, an increasing number of diasporic peoples have been "returning" to their ethnic homelands after living outside their countries of ancestral origin for generations. These ethnic return migrants are responding to economic pressures, a desire to rediscover ethnic roots, and the immigration and nationality policies of homeland governments, which have actively encouraged their diasporic descendants living abroad to return "home." Although they are initially welcomed back as ethnic brethen, their diasporic homecomings are often ambivalent and negative experiences as they are ethnically excluded as cultural foreigners in their ancestral homelands and become unskilled immigrant workers performing low-status jobs. This chapter provides an overview of ethnic return migration in Europe and East Asia. After examining the causes of their diasporic return, the chapter focuses on their unfavorable reception in their ethnic homelands and its impact on their ethno-national identities and conceptions of homeland. As ethnic return migrants become ethnically and socieconomically marginalized immigrant minorities, their presumed affinity with the host populace based on shared descent is seriously challenged, often causing them to adopt mutually exclusive and restrictive ethnic identities and attitudes. Instead of consolidating scattered diasporic peoples, ethnic return migration can therefore weaken diasporic attachments to the country of ancestral origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to Diaspora and Transnationalism
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781118320792
ISBN (Print)9781405188265
StatePublished - Jun 26 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Diasporas
  • Ethnic identity
  • Ethnic return migration
  • Immigration policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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