Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Irving L. Markovitz

Subject Categories

International Relations | Political Science


civil society, diaspora, philanthropy, social capital, Turkey, Turkish-Americans


This dissertation provides an analysis of Turkish-American diaspora philanthropy - done through social and human capital transfers - and its role in impacting local development in Turkey. The study offers the consideration of a new kind of diaspora philanthropy, namely innovative philanthropy, which channels ideas, skills and experiences that have the potential to impact social change in local communities through social and human capital transfers.

The dissertation presents and analyzes two cases that have been supported by the Turkish-American diaspora. Case studies show that even though diaspora philanthropy towards Turkey is still relatively new and small in financial terms, there are members of the diaspora who make a difference in their local communities beyond what any other international actor can develop. Study highlights the impact of these diaspora members, whose philanthropic contributions are a combination of motivation, and persistence; and uses the term "diaspora champions" to define them. These diaspora champions connect back home not just by sending money but sharing the experiences and skills they gained in the United States and tapping into their personalized networks. The study depicts the social process of these philanthropic transfers with a particular emphasis on the roles of social and human capital transfers. The study finds that diaspora champions have been instrumental in 1) the emergence of local civic leaders; 2) the launch and initiation of local social initiatives; and 3) the expansion of these social initiatives beyond local regions. Accordingly, this research suggests that philanthropy done by diaspora champions through social and human capital has an important role to play in creating a new paradigm for local development, as it offers some powerful insights.