Gendering Diasporas file

Gendering Diasporas
 Development of Diasporas
 Defining Diaspora
 Diaspora & Postcolonialism
 Diasporic Practices
 Diaspora Space
 Diaspora & Transnationalism
 Readings: Gendering Diaspora
 Proposed Questions
Development of ‘Diaspora’
 Greek origin: “dispersion”; to “sow or scatter”
 Jewish experience
 Forced Migration/Refugee Studies (material
 Link with notion of border
 Cultural Studies: celebration of hybridity; resisting
reifications of ethnicity and culture (discourse)
 ‘Diaspora’ as metaphor for globalized world,
resistance, hybridity & transgression
Defining Diaspora
 ‘The collective forced dispersion of a religious
and/or ethnic group precipitated by a disaster,
often of a political nature’ (Cohen, 1995)’
 Populations that satisfy 3 criteria: 1. dispersed
from a homeland to one or more other territories.
2. Presence abroad is enduring, although exile
not necessarily permanent; 3. some kind of
exchange (social, economic, political or cultural)
between the spatially separated communities
William Safran: Diaspora (1991)
 1) They or their ancestors, have been dispersed from a specific original
‘centre’ to two or more ‘peripheral’, or foreign, regions;
2) They retain a collective memory, vision, or myth about their original
homeland - its physical location, history, and achievements;
3) They believe they are not - and perhaps cannot be - fully accepted by
their host society and therefore feel partly alienated and insulated from
4) They regard their ancestral homeland as their true, ideal home and
as the place to which they or their descendants would (or should)
eventually return - when conditions are appropriate;
5) They believe that they should, collectively, be committed to the
maintenance or restoration of their original homeland and its safety
and prosperity; and they continue to relate, personally or vicariously, to
that homeland in one way or another, and their ethnocommunal
consciousness and solidarity are importantly defined by the existence of
such relationship. (Safran, 1991)
Diaspora & Postcolonialism
 Mode of theorization which allows thinking through
displacements engendered by colonialism
 Diasporic consciousness
 Condition of subjectivity marked by long histories of
displacement and dispossession
 Emergence and development in relations with power
Diasporic Practices
 Production of culture through active circulation of
knowledge, objects and traceable aesthetic or
expressive forms
‘Practices that reproduce the feeling of a shared past
and a constrained present’
Expressive practices as ‘way out’ (music, dance, art,
literature, religious & secular celebrations, poetry,
theatre, food etc.)
Cultural inventiveness
Socio-economic constraints, legal restrictions, harsh
living conditions might not allow for expressive
traceable practices
‘Diaspora Space’ (Avtar Brah)
‘Intersectionality of diaspora, border, and
dis/location as a point of confluence of economic,
political, cultural and psychic processes’.
 ‘Diaspora space is inhabited not only by those
who have migrated and their descendants but
equally by those who are constructed and
represented as indigenous.
 ‘Entanglement of genealogies of dispersion with
those who stay put.’
Diaspora & Transnationalism
 Debate about relationship
 “All diasporas are transnational but not all
transnational are diasporas”
 Diaspora ‘condition of leaving’ while
transnationalism ‘condition of living’?
 Diasporic subjectivity not necessarily related to
crossing of boundaries and transnational
movements, but depends more on the experience
and memory of becoming ’unhomely’
 Characteristics: forced migration, collective memory,
alienation & insulation; de-territorialization; projects
of investments, diasporic consciousness; desire to