Riches and Belonging: Global Diasporas in the 20th Century Pt. I

The relationship between (the absence of) riches and belonging in global diasporas in the 20th century will be the overarching theme of the two proposed panels. The panels will try to shed new light on how flows of money, knowledge, and ideas of (self-) status affected senses of belonging, discourses of legitimacy, and notions of citizenship in different colonial, crypto-colonial, non-colonial and post-colonial contexts.

The two panels will bring together historians working with different regional foci and will take into consideration the often-problematic triadic connections between diaspora communities, host societies/states and the societies/states in their region of origin. In particular, the main aspects that the panels intend to analyze are:

1) The role of poverty and wealth as qualifying or disqualifying factors to determine inclusion in and belonging to a polity

2) The increasing attention paid to the economic potential of diasporas/migrant communities and the efforts to appropriate them in order to generate national wealth

3) The elaboration of developmental economic policies aimed at generating discourses of legitimacy and entitlement for migrant communities in a host society

More specifically, the paper by Martin Dusinberre will look at how, in the first half of the 20th century, imperial Japan appropriated the impoverished migrants of its Pacific diaspora as they were increasingly seen as instrumental in enriching the nation. Harald Fischer-Tiné’s paper will consider the 1914 voyage of the Japanese steamship Komagata-maru to Vancouver, turned back by the Govt. of Canada with 350 British Indian passengers. This episode provides a significant case of precedence for the discrimination against migrants on the basis of their economic status which debunked the inclusivist discourse of imperial citizenship as mere rhetoric. Elena Valdameri’s paper, instead, will examine an important shift in the notion of belonging and citizenship in India from the early 20th century to the post-liberalizations period. It will show that, whereas in colonial India the idea of citizenship was based on territorialized notions of sacrifice, thrift and austerity, in the following decades this discourse (and the law) was shaped by de-territorialized visions of ‘Indianness’, allowing for the inclusion of wealthy South Asian diaspora groups. Ultimately, the paper by Cyrus Schayegh will explore how late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Zionist economic policy makers in Palestine defined and defended the Zionist enterprise as a boon to both the Ottoman and British empires. By studying these intra-imperial relationships, this paper will complicate the ways in which we understand developmentalism against the backdrop of competing empires.