Long-Distance Regionalism and Non Resident Telanganites

After the end of the Cold War, the development of ethno-nationalist movements in conjunction with the rise of international migrations has led to an increased academic focus on transnational politics and on what Benedict Anderson's termed "long-distance nationalism". The Palestinian and Israeli support from outside the Middle East, the Tamil diaspora's involvement in the LTTE war for a Tamil nation in Sri Lanka have been stock examples in the 1990s and 2000s. At the same time, the school of transnationalism studies, led by Peggy Levitt and Leslie Sklair, insisted on the non-monetary forms of remittances sent by the migrants and on the space migrants occupy outside the purview of the State. After examining the role of long-distance nationalism in India at the national level, this paper will strive to understand the involvement of the diaspora in regional party dynamics in Andhra Pradesh. The Telangana movement constitutes indeed a striking case of long-distance regionalism. Non Resident Indians from the Telangana region are indeed particularly active in lobbying for the creation of a new State carved out of Andhra Pradesh and in election campaigning. This study will examine the transnational dynamics and implications of such lobbying, along with the impact of this long-distance regionalism on the very idea of India.

The mechanisms of long-distance nationalism have hardly been studied. Worse, long-distance regionalism, which does not necessarily oppose the State or aim at its dissolution, has remained ignored in spite of bringing a new light on expatriate political mobilisation and on State-diaspora relationships. This project explores, through the case-study of the pro-Telangana movement, the relationship of long-distance regionalists with the state of their country of origin and aims at understanding the conditions and the driving forces of their mobilization. Drawing from rational choice and mobilization theories, but bearing in mind the politics of emotion also at play, this project examines the social, historical and cultural context that has cradled and helped develop the diaspora’s discourse and mobilisation as well as the motivations of the different actors. In doing so, it hopes to shed new light on the complex relationship between the home country, the home region and international migrants.


Presentation :

- Les Telanganais de l’extérieur et le régionalisme... on Novembre 22th 2010 at EHESS

- Presentation at the BASAS annual conferenceon April 2011 at University of Southampton, UK

- Presentation at the Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales (CERI) on April 2011 at CERI