Diasporas, Philanthropy and Hometown Associations: The Central American Experience

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Mar 2006
This is the last version available of "Diasporas, Philanthropy and Hometown Associations: The Central American Experience". This paper looks at the experience of Hometown Associations (HTAs) in Central America as an illustration of voluntary work on development and a manifestation of a transnational identity characterized by the interplay between micro and macro dynamics living in a real world of "distant proximities". The paper analyzes the formation of transnational migrants as diasporas that are formed by the influx of history, migration and contact, and identifies characteristic and features of HTAs within a broader context of identity and belonging. The paper also looks at the ways in which these associations operate and posits questions about the challenge to development players to engage with diasporas as partners in development. We argue that development work today needs a deterritorialized approach that includes the realities and desires of migrants as organized diasporas or as individuals with concrete preferences.