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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Americans Abroad: A Global Diaspora?


This article uses the lens of diaspora to explore the understudied case of US emigration and the transnationalism of Americans residing abroad. Although rarely recognized as such, native-born US citizens are also migrants who cross international borders, maintain close cultural and political ties to their homeland, and form social networks with their compatriots scattered across the globe. Despite these "diasporic" tendencies, various peculiarities of the case (individual and national privilege high among them) render Americans unlikely subjects for the application of a concept commonly associated with coercion, trauma, and marginalization. Nevertheless, this article maintains that (1) the inclusion of a counterintuitive but compatible case can sharpen the conceptualization of an already inflated term; and (2) the application of a counterintuitive framework can illuminate aspects of American mobility and belonging with significant implications for the host countries, the homeland, and the migrants themselves.

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