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Stéphane Dufoix
Translated by William Rodarmor
With a foreword by Roger Waldinger
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Coined in the third century B.C., the termdiasporahas evolved into a buzzword used to describe the migrations of groups as diverse as ethnic populations, religious communities, and even engineers working abroad. This concise book provides a critical introduction to the concept of diaspora, bringing a fresh, synthetic perspective to virtually all aspects of this topic. Stéphane Dufoix incorporates a wealth of case studies-about the Jewish, Armenian, African, Chinese, Greek, and Indian experiences- to illustrate key concepts, give a clear overview on current thinking, and reassess the value of the term for us today.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94129-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xviii)
    Roger Waldinger

    Diaspora—as both concept and social practice—is in vogue. One doesn’t have to look far for evidence of interest in this idea. We can begin in the academic world, starting with the interdisciplinary journal calledDiaspora(in publication since 1991) and continuing on to the librarian’s favorite tool, the World Catalog, where a search for books with “diaspora” in the title, published since 2005, yields more than 450 hits. The kaleidoscope of groups mentioned—Indian, Armenian, African, Scottish, Dutch, Muslim, Catalan, Cuban, Greek, Mexican, Central American, and southern—exemplifies the phenomenon that Rogers Brubaker has labeled the “diaspora diaspora”...

    (pp. xix-xxii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-3)

    A simple word . . . “diaspora.” For a long time, it referred only to physically scattered religious groups (peoples, churches, or congregations) living as minorities among other people and other faiths. Then, starting in the 1970s, this ancient word underwent an amazing inflation that peaked in the 1990s, by which time it was being applied to most of the world’s peoples. There were British, Chechen, Somali, Tibetan, Caribbean, Algerian, Iranian, Latin American, Romanian, Russian, and Afghan diasporas. Some involved components of a national population. France had Corsican, Breton, Auvergnat, and Alsatian diasporas. The word was applied to professional groups,...

  6. CHAPTER 1 What Is a Diaspora?
    (pp. 4-34)

    “Diaspora” is a Greek word, derived from the verbdiaspeiro, which was used as early as the fifth century b.c. by Sophocles, Herodotus, and Thucydides. The modern usage of “diaspora” stems from its appearance as a neologism in the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek by the legendary seventy Jewish scholars in Alexandria in the third century b.c. In the so-called Septuagint Bible, “diaspora” is used twelve times. But it doesn’t refer to the historic dispersion of the Jews who were taken as captives to Babylon after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 b.c., or to any other human...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The Spaces of Dispersion
    (pp. 35-58)

    A consideration of dispersion involves being able to name a common point of departure for it. People can’t be dispersed without first having been together. But who is dispersed? What dispersed population(s) are we talking about?

    Writes historian William McNeill, “It is safe to assume that when our ancestors first became fully human they were already migratory, moving about in pursuit of big game.”¹ Paleoanthropologists place the first migrations of the genusHomofrom Africa at between 2 and 1.5 million years ago. According to the “out of Africa” hypothesis put forth in the 1980s, modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens)...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Maintaining Connections: Holding On and Letting Go
    (pp. 59-79)

    Any attempt to describe the collective relationship to space and time involves suggesting answers to several intertwined questions: What are the social frameworks through which relationships to a community’s underpinnings are changed and reshaped? What “makes” a community? Is distance the equivalent of detachment or attachment? What is the role of time in maintaining and transforming connections? In this chapter, I propose a schema I hope can serve as an analytical framework for answering these questions. It postulates the existence of different ways of being connected to the referent-origin. Building communities, whether local or transstate, can then occur without reference...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Managing Distance
    (pp. 80-105)

    Being far from one’s native land and feeling nostalgic for it are ancient themes. They are found among poets and writers and are widely shared by those who have left to go abroad. Being far from home is often a rupture, and for the last two centuries state authorities and those living far from the referent-origin—state, nation, or territory—have tried to fight it.

    This chapter outlines three different approaches to shrinking the distance between individuals or groups and their land, whether it is their own homeland or that of their ancestors. The approaches’ aim is to create proximity...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 106-108)

    In its contemporary usage, “diaspora” is perfectly suited to the modern world. Relieved of its heavy burden of misery, persecution, and punishment, the word nicely fits the changes in the relationship to distance, in view of the quasi disappearance of time in its relationship to space. The technological possibility of proximity between people who resemble each other in some way—whether religious, national, ethnic, cultural, professional, or other—allows nonterritorialized links (networks) to emerge. Their spread favors a vision of the planetary reality, or part of that reality, in terms of a “global world.” Whether “diaspora” is a common word,...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 109-124)
    (pp. 125-136)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 137-138)