Diaspora volunteering: a tool for development or a channel for diasporic (re) engagement with countries of origin - case study from Nepal

Nisha Thomas*, Matt Baillie Smith, Nina Laurie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Research and policy interest in the potential role diaspora communities can play in the development of their countries of origin has been growing steadily for many decades. While the focus is more on migrants’ financial remittances, there is also an emerging body of literature that explores the social remittances – the non-financial flows including the ideas, behaviours and social capital that flow from receiving-country to sending-country communities. These, often local-level, transfers, interactions, experiences and exchanges of ideas, attitudes and cultures are largely ‘invisibilised’ (Sherraden et al., 2008) in dominant discussions and debates on the migration-development nexus. In this chapter, we explore diaspora volunteering – volunteering by members of diaspora communities in their countries of origin – as a potential avenue through which exchange of ideas, skills and knowledge occur between places of origin and settlement. It explores the patterns in which members of the Nepalese diaspora community in the UK volunteer in Nepal, and how they contribute to Nepal’s development through volunteering. The diaspora volunteering initiatives studied as part of this research show that while volunteering is still rooted in broader notions of diaspora ‘giving’ and philanthropy, it also offers members of diaspora communities, new and flexible modes of re-engagement and reconnection with their countries of origin. The chapter also highlights the changing diaspora-homeland relationships and the need to exercise caution when making automatic assumptions about contemporary diasporic engagements with homelands and their connection with development in countries of origin.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSouth Asia migration report 2020
Subtitle of host publicationexploitation, entrepreneurship and engagement
EditorsS. Irudaya Rajan
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
PublisherRoutledge (India)
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780429321450
ISBN (Print)9780367337148, 9780367337179
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2020


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