Exploring Diaspora Strategies: An International Comparison
Ancien, Delphine and Boyle, Mark and Kitchin, Rob (2009) Exploring Diaspora Strategies: An International Comparison. In: Exploring Diaspora Strategies, January 26-28 2009, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
Whilst migration has long been a characteristic of societies, the last two centuries have witnessed the mass mobility of populations, with millions of people moving across the planet to take up new lives in new places. In some cases, such migration has been of necessity forced through persecution or starvation or economic hardship, in other cases it has been a strategic choice motivated by ambition and opportunity. Whatever the reason, citizens of one nation have uprooted their lives, negotiated a transnational journey, and made new lives for themselves in a new nation, often within fairly large groupings of fellow migrants. Originally conceived of to refer to populations living in exile, the concept of diaspora has more recently been broadened to concern mass migration in general and to second, third, and later generation descendants. Robin Cohen (1997) thus identifies five different types of diasporas: * victim diasporas (e.g., populations forced into exile such as the Jewish, African, Armenian diasporas); * labour diasporas (e.g., mass migration in search of work and economic opportunities such as the Indian and Turkish diasporas); * trade diasporas (e.g., migrations seeking to open trade routes and links such as the Chinese and Lebanese diasporas); * imperial diasporas (e.g., migration among those keen to serve and maintain empires such as the British and French diasporas); cultural diaspora (e.g., those who move through a process of chain migration such as the Caribbean diaspora). Diaspora populations are then diverse in nature, shaped by the reasons for migration, the scale, timing, and geography of flow, how they interact with social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions in destination regions and how they were received in their new host country, and how they view their original homeland and its culture. And while they might eventually adopt the citizenship of their host, diasporean identity, and that of subsequent generations, remain inflected with the 2 nation they left, sometimes in very explicit ways through public acts of celebration and memory, sometimes much more implicitly through family histories and stories. Moreover, whilst many diasporic journeys are unidirectional, or involve infrequent trips back to the original homeland, in today’s globalised world some diasporas are highly mobile and transnational, shuttling back and forth between their new place of residence and their homeland, often in complex circular routes. The very term diaspora then has become synonymous with complex, dual or even multiple identities, often expressing an ‘in betweeness’ of home and destination cultures.
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