Diasporas have historically occupied a secondary role in the study of international relations, despite the fact that such international migrations are a subject of great significance. In the past 20 years though, the study of diasporas has gained more relevance—especially now, with the massive migration of Syrian refugees toward Europe. Outside academia, diasporas usually gain prominence when they are celebrated and commemorated in localities and regions via the migrants’ food, history, or other cultural markers. Diasporas also gain attention whenever an individual of a particular ethnic group commits a crime or serves as a scapegoat for xenophobic hatred, or conversely, when such individuals are victims of persecution, detention, or exile.
Despite the lack of agreement regarding the precise meaning of the concept of diaspora, one of the most accepted is that of academic Khachig Tötölyan, who calls it a “transnational collectivity, broken apart by, and woven together across, the borders of their own and other nation-states, maintaining cultural and political institutions.” In other words, a diaspora is a population dispersed from its homeland, with collective memory and idealization of the homeland, as well as a strong ethnic consciousness and solidarity with other members of the group, and an exacerbation of allegedly common and ancestral traits that are periodically reinforced. The term “diaspora”, however, is much older, tracing back to ancient Greek – meaning “scattered” – when it was used to refer to citizens of a dominant city-state who emigrated to a conquered land in order to colonize and assimilate the territory. The modern use, from the 19th century, most often describes the Jewish diaspora worldwide.
Full article at Overture’s website and also on the printed version (Issue 3, April 2019 – BUY the printed version). Date of publication: 15/04/2019.