International Development Planning Review

Diaspora return of transnational migrants to Trinidad and Tobago: the additional contributions of social remittances

International Development Planning Review (2012), 34, (2), 189–209.

Abstract

Current enthusiasm among development stakeholders for the enticement and recruitment ‘back home’ of skilled Diaspora migrants has predominantly revolved around how human capital gains and transfers of capital, knowledge, technical skills and workplace entrepreneurialism and innovation can be facilitated. In this article, we widen the conceptual basis of this dimension of the migration-development nexus, by bringing the additional contributions of the social remittances that return migrants offer, and practice, into the mix. As evidence, the article examines how and why a sample of ‘middling’1 Trinidadian transnational professionals engage in social development activities and why experiences vary widely on their return. Their views are appraised through the verbal optic of their narratives, which they shared with us during in-depth interviews. Several among these Diaspora returnees appear to be agents for the diffusion and infusion of social capital and non-monetary, social remittances in the homeland to which they have returned in mid-life and mid-career. Others are disappointed, or frustrated, and have their hopes dashed, leading to thoughts of re-migration, or re-return. Despite such difficulties, we find that family belonging and national pride strengthens many of these return migrants' development potential through their deeply felt commitments to local ‘capacity-building’.

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Author details

Conway, Dennis

Potter, Robert

Bernard, Godfrey