"Campaigning Abroad: Transnational Elections and Diaspora Influence in Latin America"

March 20, 2018 - 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Beneski Earth Sciences Building, Paino Lecture Hall
Event poster illustrated with photographs

The Department of Political Science at Amherst College, along with funding support from the Departments of Anthropology and Sociology, the Eastman and Lamont Funds, the Five College Faculty Seminar on Migration, and the UMass Legal Studies program, presents:

"Campaigning Abroad: Transnational Elections and Diaspora Influence in Latin America"

This event is free and open to the public.

Michael Paarlberg is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Immigration, and an assistant professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University starting fall 2018. He is also an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and a regular contributor to The Guardian. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Georgetown University, and researches transnational elections and immigrant communities in the U.S. and Latin America. He is working on a book on diaspora politics in El Salvador, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. As a journalist, he writes about labor, immigration, social science and classical music.

Paarlberg will give a talk titled "Campaigning Abroad: Transnational Elections and Diaspora Influence in Latin America." This talk will discuss political campaigns which are no longer limited by territorial boundaries. Candidates running for office in countries as varied as Guatemala, Turkey, Liberia and Taiwan regularly travel to other countries to campaign among diaspora communities in migrant-receiving countries such as the United States. While overseas voting rights have recently been adopted by most countries, transnational voting rates by migrants are low. Yet politicians seek the support of citizens residing abroad even when those citizens do not, or cannot, vote. This book project explores the impact that diaspora communities can have on elections in their countries of origin, and the campaign strategies political parties in Latin America adopt to gain the support of migrants in the U.S., based on data from party travel documents; surveys of migrants and home-country voters; and interviews with politicians, party officials and campaign strategists in Mexico, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. Paarlberg develops a new theory as to why and how parties in migrant-sending countries seek to build and capitalize on transnational ties among diaspora communities for electoral advantage, determining that diaspora campaign strategy depends on the infrastructure that parties build overseas and the partisan skew of the diaspora community, largely formed in the period of migration. He also finds that politicians seek the support of migrants not primarily for their votes, but for the influence they believe migrants have over family members in their home countries, although his models based on polling data find this perception to be exaggerated.

Contact Info

Theresa Laizer
(413) 542-2208
image of e-mail address@amherst.edu