Coercion-by-proxy: Defending diaspora activism


Transnational repression” is a term used to describe how countries silence their exiles and diasporas abroad, according to Nate Schenkkan, Director for Special Research at Freedom House. States employ the tactics of transnational repression within patterns of international mobility and finance, through legal institutions that regulate migration and citizenship, and via digital technologies that enable instantaneous and constant communication across borders, he observed in the introduction to the recent Freedom House Special Report, Perspectives on “Everyday” Transnational Repression in an Age of Globalization.

Drawing from the Freedom House report, a forthcoming event will examine how authoritarian states exercise influence and maintain control over their populations abroad, from exceptional measures such as assassination to everyday modes of surveillance and harassment. The webinar will focus on five areas:

1) the general trends of everyday transnational repression and how they relate to the more exceptional measures;

2) the digital transnational repression toolkit;

3) coercion-by-proxy and pressures on relatives left at home;

4) transnational repression in universities and its impact on academic freedom; and

5) the importance of defending diaspora activism for democracy and human rights.


Examples will link repression in/from Central Asia and the Middle East & North Africa to exile communities overseas including in Europe and North America.The discussion will shed light on tactics and strategies of authoritarian states, ranging from digital tools of repression to ‘coercion-by-proxy,’ (pressure on exiles’ family members, associates, or acquaintances who remain in the origin country) and how these repression strategies impact on the ability of exiles and diasporas to engage in activism. The event will also reveal the latest analysis of the Central Asian Political Exiles Database project.

Freedom House, University of Exeter and the Foreign Policy Centre webinar – Tuesday 15th September, 4 pm-5.30 pm BST (UK time)


  • Dr Fiona Adamson, Reader in International Relations at SOAS
  • Dr Gerasimos Tsourapas, Senior Lecturer and Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion for the School of Government at the University of Birmingham
  • Dr Marcus Michaelsen, Senior and Postdoctoral Researcher at LSTS Research Group
  • Dr Dana Moss, Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame
  • Dr Saipira Furstenberg, Associate Researcher at the University of Exeter
  • Professor John Heathershaw, Professor at the University of Exeter

Chair: Nate Schenkkan, Director for Special Research at Freedom House

RSVP via Eventbrite here or below. Zoom login details will be sent to registered attendees prior to the event.

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