The merits of not returning: The search by Acehnese in the diaspora for political participation in post-conflict times

Antje Missbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Many diaspora scholars view the wish to return home as an essential characteristic of diasporism. In line with this, my research suggests, that the wish to return to Aceh is omnipresent among Acehnese diasporans residing in Malaysia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, USA and Australia. Yet despite the significance of the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding, a peace agreement bringing relative peace and stability to Aceh in August 2005, the reality is that many Acehnese diasporans refrain from returning or postpone going home. On the one hand, the preference to remain in exile is based on a general mistrust of the peace agreement. On the other hand, over the years diasporans have settled in their host countries quite well, not just materially but also politically. In exile, they can become long-distance spectators and commentators, immersing themselves in criticism and providing advice to their Aceh-based countrymen without having to bear any consequences for their involvement. Their public exposure also earns them popularity and prestige among their co-ethnics. Due to this prestigious overseas bonus they may even enjoy more attention than they would receive if they were back home. This article looks at political participation of Acehnese diasporans in the post-conflict period. By examining their comments, critiques and aspirations expressed in Acehnese newspapers, email-lists and press statements, I point to some reasons why remaining in exile has its political comforts, too
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111 - 142
Number of pages32
JournalR I M A: Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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