The Acehnese Diaspora: Hawks and Doves? Conflict-Support, Peace-Finding and Political Opportunity Structures

Antje Missbach

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    In the literature on diasporas and their role in homelands conflicts, most writers see diasporans as conflict supporters, providing funds, logistics and ideological legitimisation to fighters in the homelands while living relatively safely in their host countries. More recently, academics and practitioners have pointed out that diasporans can also act as lobbyists for peace and mediators in peace negotiations. Although it is now widely recognised that diasporans can act as both, and even at the same time, the debate has not produced clearer analytical indications to determine the circumstances in regard to why and when diasporans tend to be hawks or doves (or both). The literature on the Aceh conflict has widely underestimated the role of the Acehnese diaspora. My research on the impacts of the Acehnese diaspora on homeland politics provided evidence for a significant participation in shaping Aceh's politics, in particular regarding the transition from conflict support to peace-finding. This article sheds light on the conditions under which Acehnese diasporans acted both as hawks and doves and examines factors responsible for their engagement. I argue that: first, peace or war support by diasporans should not be understood as binary opposition, but as part of a spectrum of responses exercised concomitantly by the same or different segments of the diaspora. Second, diasporic support reacts to shifts in strategic thinking of internal and external forces and makes use of the existing political opportunity structures. Third, different kinds of support also result from the heterogeneous composition of the diaspora itself and internal skirmishes about the legitimacy to represent 'the Acehnese'.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)22-43
    JournalJournal of Human Security
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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