Global Diasporas: An Introduction

Global Diasporas: An Introduction

Global Diasporas: An Introduction

Global Diasporas: An Introduction

Synopsis

New Diasporas explores the growing pressures for international migration of the last quarter of the 20th century. Van Hear presents case studies of 10 new transnational communities, discussing their future and their role in the global economy.

Excerpt

The word “diaspora” is derived from the Greek verb speiro (to sow) and the preposition dia (over). When applied to humans, the ancient Greeks thought of diaspora as migration and colonization. By contrast, for Jews, Africans, Palestinians and Armenians the expression acquired a more sinister and brutal meaning. Diaspora signified a collective trauma, a banishment, where one dreamed of home but lived in exile. Other peoples abroad who have also maintained strong collective identities have, in recent years, defined themselves as diasporas, though they were neither active agents of colonization nor passive victims of persecution.

The idea of a diaspora thus varies greatly. However, all diasporic communities settled outside their natal (or imagined natal) territories, acknowledge that “the old country” - a notion often buried deep in language, religion, custom or folklore - always has some claim on their loyalty and emotions. That claim may be strong or weak, or boldly or meekly articulated in a given circumstance or historical period, but a member's adherence to a diasporic community is demonstrated by an acceptance of an inescapable link with their past migration history and a sense of co-ethnicity with others of a similar background.

What implications does this phenomenon have for the international state system? By the end of the twentieth century it is likely that the membership of the United Nations will comprise about 200 states. However, the number of “nation-peoples” (groups evincing a “peoplehood” through the retention or expression of separate

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