Diaspora Politicisation and Cultural Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial Activity in the Kurdish Diaspora

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Janroj Yilmaz KELES, Middlesex University, United Kingdom
Stephen SYRETT, Middlesex University, United Kingdom
Janroj Yilmaz Keles/ Stephen Syrett

Diaspora Politicisation and Cultural Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial Activity in the Kurdish Diaspora

While scholars from cultural studies, sociology, law, international relations and human geography have conceptualized the articulation and mobilization of diasporas for their real or imaginary homeland, the politicization of diasporic identity in shaping diasporic entrepreneurial activity has remained largely unexplored within the existing literature.

Drawing on a cross-national research with Kurdish entrepreneurs in the UK, Germany, Sweden and Kurdistan-Iraq, this paper seeks to examine the impact of a politicized diasporic identity and its relation to the transnational entrepreneurial behavior evident within certain diaspora communities. The paper will particularly focus on the parallel linkages between the process of politicization, articulation, transnational mobilization and the entrepreneurial reproduction of ethnic culture, language and politics within certain diasporic contexts. Business ventures that emerge in these diasporic contexts, whether in the form of commercial and community services in adopted/settlement countries or reconstruction related ventures in homeland areas may have a politicized characteristic. This produces a form of transnational diasporic entrepreneurship where diasporic ethnic identity and politicization play a central role in the forming, networking and market creation of diasporic economic behaviours.

Findings from this study demonstrate that Kurdish diasporic entrepreneurs operate within a politicized diaspora group and pursue venture activities that not only develop the diaspora economy but also promote political engagement, cross national solidarity and an enhanced diasporic consciousness. Together these contribute to the revival and re-establishment of their own imagined political community and related language, culture and future political vision. In this paper, we attempt to conceptualize the phenomenon of politicized diasporic entrepreneurship (PDE), an entrepreneurial form which has not been specifically identified and studied within the existing literature with the consequence that there is limited understanding of its nature, form, scale and scope.