The Acehnese diaspora after the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding: return challenges and diasporic post-conflict transformations

Antje Missbach

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This article sheds light on how the Acehnese diaspora adapted to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), a peace deal signed between the Indonesian government and the Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (Free Aceh Movement, GAM) after almost 30 years of small-scale war in Aceh. Analysing diasporic responses requires taking two sites into consideration: the host countries where Acehnese diasporans reside and the homeland, to which diasporans return and engage in local politics. Spontaneous and temporary return decreased the Acehnese diaspora significantly in numbers and this decline correlated with a loss of impact on homeland politics. Unlike in conflict times, the homeland no longer requires their involvement. Most remaining diasporans adjust to the loss of significance by transforming their collective activities to suit their new and more limited opportunities. Rather than long-distance politics they focus on identity politics to nurture their Acehneseness abroad. However, at the same time, the process of de-diasporisation is accompanied by a subtle wave of political re-diasporisation. Since the conflict in Aceh was the main rationale for the diasporisation of the Acehnese overseas, the end of conflict now threatens the diasporic cohesion. In order to save not only the notion of togetherness, but also the diaspora's reputation as a spearhead for Aceh's independence, a few diasporans continue to dedicate their activities to this separatist cause.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-201
    JournalAsian Ethnicity
    Volume12
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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