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What motivates diasporas to support undemocratic rule in their countries of origin while enjoying democratic freedoms in their countries of settlement? This study adopts a meso-level approach to answer this question, and focuses on the Turkish diaspora in Europe as a case study. Lately, the diaspora governance literature has focused on offi cial diaspora institutions and the policies of countries of origin. This study, alternatively, highlights “diasporic civic space” as an arena entrenching authoritarian practices “at home.” It investigates the conditions under which diasporic civic space can be co-opted by undemocratic countries of origin and the role of “home state oriented diaspora organizations” in this process of co-optation. The study shows that diasporic civic space can off er resources to undemocratic regimes to mobilize previously dormant diaspora communities and create a support base abroad that is driven by nationalism and partisanship. The empirical discussion unveils four factors behind the successful mobilization of diasporas by undemocratic countries of origin: (1) nationalist sentiments among the diaspora; (2) motivations to get a share from the perks that may be meted out by home country government; (3) feelings of insecurity, fear, and marginalization as immigrants; and (4) the desire to assert one’s identity and cultural ties vis-à-vis the majority in countries of settlement. The fi ndings are based on the case of the Turkish diasporic civic space in Europe, which has recently been mobilized by a diaspora organization with political ties to the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Original data are drawn from semi-structured interviews conducted in 2018–2019 with members and representatives of major pro-AKP diaspora organization known as the Union of International Democrats (UID), as well as Alevi, Kurdish, and Islamist/conservative diaspora organizations in Sweden, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Germany. The fi ndings contribute to the understanding of undemocratic home states’ non-coercive and de-territorialized governance practices beyond their borders.

Key words

civil society, diaspora, diaspora organizations, government-oriented NGOs (GONGOs), Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey, Union of International Democrats (UETD/UID)


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