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Research Activities

Research Projects

FY 2007/2008 Research Topic: 4-11
Migration and “Return”: Diasporas and Their Homelands


This research project examines human migration motivated by the “return” to ethnic homelands (an area over which an ethnic group claims exclusive ownership based on its historical residence) in Central Asia and the Caucasus of the former USSR. Our study focuses on Armenians and Kazakhs residing beyond the territories of Armenia and Kazakhstan, respectively, and ethnic groups deported to Central Asia under Stalin’s rule (Germans, Crimean Tatars, and Meskhs), and explores the ways in which they (re-)migrated to their homelands.

The move to an ethnic homeland is often explained by immigrants’ ethnic emotions. In fact, however, the “return” of a diaspora is influenced not only by such emotions, but also by the practical calculations of immigrants and policies of the states that accept (or exclude) them. The territorial boundary of a homeland itself does not necessarily correspond to the area of historical habitation of an ethnic community; rather, it is a product of politics.

For the purpose of comparative analysis, we adopted the following common research questions:
1) What was the ideological background to the “return” to ethnic homeland? What factors facilitated such (re-)migration?
2) What logic was used to determine the territory of the ethnic homeland?
3) What identity change occurred within an ethnic group that was divided by state or administrative boundaries?


April 2007 - March 2009


Members of the Research Project

OKA Natsuko
HANYA Shiro (Lecturer, Aichi Prefectural University)
YOSHIMURA Takayuki (Lecturer, Tokyo University)