Diaspora, Identity, and Religion: New Directions in Theory and Research

By Waltraud Kokot; Khachig Tölölyan et al. | Go to book overview

1

Deconstructing and comparing diasporas

William Safran


What is a diaspora? Uses and misuses of a concept

Decades ago, academic discussion of ethnic minorities was already in full swing. Yet few, if any, writers on the subject mentioned diaspora. One looks in vain for a treatment of that phenomenon in the works of Anderson, Brass, Enloe, Gurr, Hobsbawm, Horowitz, or many other prominent scholars of ethnicity. This neglect could be attributed to the fact that diasporas were not considered a 'comfortable' sociological category; it was perhaps also due to the fact that diaspora communities did not want to call attention to their ambiguous collective identity, and hence did not mobilize politically to obtain the kinds of civil and political rights normally accorded to 'indigenous' minorities.

Today the situation is quite different. Diaspora is a concept that is being used so widely that it has become an academic growth industry - not only in political science, but also in anthropology, sociology, psychology, religious studies, history, and even literature. At a recent conference on the subject at the University of California at Berkeley, one of the papers read was by a professor of the 'History of Consciousness'. James Clifford, a historian dear to anthropologists, argues, in a somewhat exaggerated fashion, that 'diasporic language appears to be replacing, or at least supplementing, minority discourse' (Clifford 1994:311). At one time, the diaspora phenomenon was 'undertheorized' in large part because it was applied to a very limited number of 'transnational' ethnic minority groups, such as Jews, Armenians, Chinese, and Indians; today, we find the opposite: according to Robin Cohen, in his recent book on 'comparative diasporas', the concept has been 'over-extended', much like diasporas themselves (Cohen 1997). Khachig Tölölyan (the editor of the journal Diaspora, which began publication in 1991) reported at a conference in Paris in 1998 that authors in his journal had used the expression 'diaspora' to describe 38 different groups. In short, the label has been stretched to cover almost any ethnic or religious minority that is dispersed physically from its original homeland, regardless of the conditions leading to the dispersion, and regardless of whether, and to what extent, physical, cultural, or emotional links exist between the community and the home country.

The application of the concept of diaspora to Armenians and other uprooted and expatriate communities has been quite legitimate. However, the indiscriminate

-9-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Diaspora, Identity, and Religion: New Directions in Theory and Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 213

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.