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Keywords:

  • diaspora;
  • development;
  • neoliberalism;
  • governmentality;
  • Jamaica;
  • Caribbean

Abstract:  Drawing on governmentality debates, I argue that skilled members of the Jamaican diaspora are becoming important actors in an ongoing development strategy to extend the rationality of the market into everyday social relations and institutions. Diaspora members are imagined by states and development institutions to be ideal development partners because of their access to potentially lucrative business, knowledge and capital networks, and their desire to direct them towards socially transformative ends. But, as I shall demonstrate, efforts to incorporate skilled émigrés into national development plans raise important questions about the entanglements between diaspora strategies, state power and enduring local patterns of uneven development. Rather than a space of social transformation, diaspora can also function as a space of stasis that reproduces rather than transforms such patterns. By examining Jamaica's emerging diaspora strategy, I examine not only the governmental role that diaspora groups are increasingly beginning to play, but also their potential to support or disrupt the class, gender and racial asymmetries that have historically governed flows of wealth, opportunity and power across the island.