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The term diaspora (in Greek, διασπορά – "a scattering [of seeds]") refers to the movement of any population sharing common ethnic identity who were either forced to leave or voluntarily left their settled territory, and became residents in areas often far removed from the former. It is converse to the nomadic culture, and more appropriately linked with the creation of a group of refugees. However, while refugees may or may not ultimately settle in a new geographic location, the term diaspora refers to a permanently-displaced and relocated collective.

Diasporic cultural development often assumes a different course from that of the population in the original place of settlement. It tends to vary in culture, traditions and other factors between remotely separated communities. The last vestige of cultural affiliation in a diaspora is often found in community resistance to language change and in maintenance of religious practice.


[edit] Origins and development

The first mention of a diaspora created as a result of exile is found in Deuteronomy 28:25 "thou shalt be a dispersion in all kingdoms of the earth". Its use began to develop from this original sense when the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek[1]; the word diaspora then was used to refer to the population of Jews exiled from Israel in 607 BC by the Babylonians, and from Judea in 70 CE by the Roman Empire.[2] It subsequently came to be used to refer interchangeably, but exclusively, to the historical movements of the dispersed ethnic population of Israel, the cultural development of that population, or the population itself.[3] To date, when capitalized and without modifiers (that is, simply the Diaspora), the term generally refers specifically to the Jewish diaspora[citation needed].

The wider application of diaspora evolved from the Assyrian two-way mass deportation policy of conquered populations to deny future territorial claims on their part.[4] In Ancient Greece the term diaspora meant "the scattered" and was used to refer to citizens of a dominant city-state who emigrated to a conquered land with the purpose of colonisation, to assimilate the territory into the empire.[5]

First modern attestation of diaspora is in 1876 from the Greek diaspora, derived from diaspeirein "to scatter about, disperse," from dia- "about, across" + speirein "to scatter".[6]

Sometimes refugees of other origins or ethnicities may be called a diaspora, but the two terms are far from synonymous.[7][8]

The term became more widely assimilated into English by the mid 1950s, with long-term expatriates in significant numbers from other particular countries or regions also being referred to as a diaspora.[9][10][11][8] An academic field, diaspora studies, has become established relating to this contemporary more general sense of the word.

In all cases, the term diaspora carries a sense of displacement; that is, the population so described finds itself for whatever reason separated from its national territory; and usually it has a hope, or at least a desire, to return to their homeland at some point, if the "homeland" still exists in any meaningful sense. Some writers have noted that diaspora may result in a loss of nostalgia for a single home as people "re-root" in a series of meaningful displacements. In this sense, individuals may have multiple homes throughout their diaspora, with different reasons for maintaining some form of attachment to each.

[edit] Native American diaspora

New World history records many diaspora-like events wherein major populations of the indigenous peoples in the Americas were either dispersed or transported. These dynamics continue. Virtually every Native American tribe, community and confederation in North, South and Central America has this experience as part of their family stories. Colonialists divided indigenous communities intentionally; however, strong Native American blood lines remain visible. These document-based methods of proving Native American blood lines largely preclude all but reservation families.

[edit] European diasporas

European history contains numerous diaspora-like events.

Greek Diaspora 6th c. BC

In ancient times, the trading and colonising activities of the Greek tribes from the Balkans and Asia Minor spread people of Greek culture, religion and language around the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins, establishing Greek city states in Sicily, southern Italy, northern Libya, eastern Spain, the south of France, and the Black sea coasts. Greeks founded more than 400 colonies.[12] Alexander the Great's conquest of the Achaemenid Empire marked the beginning of the Hellenistic period, which was characterized by a new wave of Greek colonization in Asia and Africa, with Greek ruling classes established in Egypt, southwest Asia and northwest India.[13]

The Migration Period relocations, which included several phases, are just one set of many. The first phase Migration Period displacement from between AD 300 and 500 included relocation of the Goths (Ostrogoths and Visigoths), Vandals, Franks, various other Germanic people (Burgundians, Langobards, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Suebi, Alemanni, Varangians and Normans), Alans and numerous Slavic tribes. The second phase, between AD 500 and 900, saw Slavic, Turkic, and other tribes on the move, resettling in Eastern Europe and gradually making it predominantly Slavic, and affecting Anatolia and the Caucasus as the first Turkic tribes (Avars, Bulgars, Huns, Khazars, Pechenegs and possibly Magyars) arrived. The last phase of the migrations saw the coming of the Hungarian Magyars and the Viking expansion out of Scandinavia.

However, such colonizing migrations cannot be considered indefinitely as diasporas; over very long periods, eventually the migrants assimilate into the settled area so completely that it becomes their new homeland. Thus the modern population of Germany do not feel that they belong in the Siberian steppes that the Alemanni left 16 centuries ago; the Hungarian Magyars are not drawn back to the Altai; and the English descendants of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes do not yearn to reoccupy the plains of Northwest Germany.

Another example is the Irish diaspora, beginning mid-19th century and brought about by a combination of harsh imperial British policies and the An Gorta Mór or "Great Hunger" of the Irish Famine. Estimates are that between 45% and 85% of Ireland's population emigrated to countries including Britain, the United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. The size of the diaspora is demonstrated by the number of people around the world who claim Irish ancestry; some sources put the figure at 80-100 million.

See also European diasporas

[edit] African Diaspora

One of the largest diasporas of pre-modern times was the African Diaspora, which began at the beginning of the 16th century. During the Atlantic Slave Trade, twenty million people from West, West-Central and South-east Africa were transported to the Western Hemisphere as slaves. This population left a major influence on the culture of English, French, Portuguese and Spanish New World colonies.

The Arab slave trade also transported large numbers of Africans from the continent, although the effect of the Diaspora to the east is more subtle. It has not received as much historical study in the West, but affected millions of Africans.

[edit] Asian diaspora

Chinese emigration (also known as the Chinese Diaspora) first occurred thousands of years ago. The mass emigration that occurred from the 19th century to 1949 was caused mainly by wars and starvation in mainland China, as well as political corruption. Most immigrants were illiterate or poorly educated peasants and coolies (Chinese: 苦力, translated: Hard Labor), who immigrated to developing countries in need of labor, such as the Americas, Australia, South Africa, Southeast Asia, Malaya and other places.

The largest Asian diaspora outside of Asia is that of the Indian diaspora. The overseas Indian community estimated at over 25 million is spread across many regions in the world, on every continent. It constitutes a diverse, heterogeneous and eclectic global community representing different regions, languages, cultures, and faiths. The common thread that binds them together is the idea of India and its intrinsic values (see Desi).[citation needed]

At least three waves of Nepalese diaspora can be identified. The earliest wave dates back to hundreds of years as early marriage and high birthrates propelled Hindu settlement eastward across Nepal, then into Sikkim and Bhutan. A backlash developed in the 1980s as Bhutan's political elites realized that Bhutanese Buddhists were at risk of becoming a minority in their own country.

A second wave was driven by British recruitment of mercenary soldiers beginning around 1815 and resettlement after retirement in the British Isles and southeast Asia. The third wave began in the 1970s as land shortages intensified and the pool of educated labor greatly exceeded job openings in Nepal. Job-related emigration created Nepalese enclaves in India, the wealthier countries of the Middle East, Europe and North America. Current estimates of the number of Nepalese living outside Nepal range well up into the millions.

Currently, the overseas Asian community, especially the East Asian and Indian communities, are amongst the best educated and successful communities in the world.

[edit] The 20th century and beyond

The twentieth century saw huge population movements. Some involved large-scale transfers of people by government action. For instance, Stalin shipped millions of people to Eastern Russia, Central Asia, and Siberia both as punishment and to stimulate development of the frontier regions. Some migrations occurred to avoid conflict and warfare. Other diasporas were created as a consequence of political decisions, such as the end of colonialism.

[edit] Japanese war with China and WWI

From the late nineteenth century Korea, and formally from 1910, became a Japanese colony. Millions of Chinese fled to western provinces not occupied by Japan (i.e., in particular Ssuchuan/Szechwan and Yunnan in the Southwest and Shensi and Kansu in the Northwest) and to Southeast Asia. More than 100,000 Koreans moved across the Amur River into Eastern Russia (then the Soviet Union) away from the Japanese.[citation needed] During the Japanese war with China (1937-1945), Japan established Manchuria as a multi-ethnic puppet state, Manchukuo.

[edit] Ethnic cleansing

Other diasporas have occurred as people fled ethnically directed persecution, oppression or genocide. Examples of these include: the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks who were forced out of Anatolia by the Ottoman Turks during the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides1 (1915–1918), with survivors settling in areas of the Levant, United States, Europe and South America[14].

Since World War I, the Assyrian diaspora has steadily increased so that there are now more Assyrians living in western and eastern Europe, North America and Australia, than in the Middle East. At the turn of the century, the Christian population in the Ottoman Empire had numbered about 5,000,000. When the Turks' massacres ended in 1923 and following the population exchange and the 1950s pogroms, only a few thousand Greeks remained.

[edit] WWII and the end of colonial rule

As WWII unfolded, Nazi Germany deported and killed millions of Jews. Some Jews fled from persecution to western Europe and the Americas before borders closed. Later other eastern European refugees moved west, away from Soviet annexation,[15] and the Iron Curtain regimes after World War II.

After WWII, the Soviet Union and Communist-controlled Poland, Hungary and Yugoslavia expelled hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans, who had lived in eastern countries for nearly two centuries, in retaliation for Nazi invasion and attempts at annexation. Most moved west, with tens of thousands seeking refuge in the United States.

Galicia in northern Spain sent many emigrants into exile during Franco's military regime from 1936 to his death in 1975.

Following WWII, the creation of the state of Israel, and a series of uprisings against colonialist rule, the Middle East was almost entirely emptied of its historic Jewish populations of nearly 1 million, the majority of whom found refuge in Israel and became known as Mizrahi Jews. At the same time, the Palestinian diaspora was created as a result of the establishment of Israel in 1948, in which 750,000 people were displaced. It was enlarged by the effects of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War; today the Palestinian refugee population is the oldest in the world.

The 1947 Partition resulted in the migration of millions of people between India and Pakistan. Many were murdered in the unrest of the period, with estimates of fatalities up to 10 million people. Thousands of former subjects of the British Raj went to the UK from the Indian subcontinent after India and Pakistan became independent in 1947.

[edit] The Cold War and the formation of post-colonial states

During and after the Cold War-era, huge populations of refugees migrated from conflict, especially from then-developing countries.

Upheaval in the Middle East and Central Asia, much of which related to power struggles between the United States and the Soviet Union, created a host of new refugee populations which developed into global diasporas. The Afghan diaspora resulted from the 1979 invasion by the former Soviet Union; both official and unofficial records[citation needed] indicate that the war displaced over 6 million people, resulting in the creation of the largest refugee population worldwide today. Many Iranians fled the 1979 Iranian Revolution following the fall of the Shah.

The Assyrian diaspora expanded as the Civil War in Lebanon, the coming into power of the Islamic republic of Iran, the Ba'athist dictatorship in Iraq, and the present-day unrest in Iraq pushed even more Assyrians on the roads of exile.[16] Tens of thousands of Iraqis have fled conflict in their nation since the beginning of the American occupation of Iraq in 2003.

In Southeast Asia, many Vietnamese people emigrated to France and later to the United States after the Cold War-related Vietnam War. Later, 30,000 French colons from Cambodia were displaced after being expelled by the Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot.[citation needed] In Sri Lanka the ethnic cleansing of Tamils started after independence from British, with diaspora of Tamils beginning in the 1980s.

In Africa, a new series of diasporas formed following the end of colonial rule. Uganda expelled 80,000 South Asians in 1972. Hundreds of thousands of people fled from the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 into neighboring countries. Thousands of refugees from deteriorating conditions in Zimbabwe have gone to South Africa. The long war in Congo has also created massive numbers of refugees.

In South America, thousands of Chilean and Uruguayan refugees fled to Europe during periods of military rule in the 1970s and '80s. A million Colombian refugees have left Colombia since 1965 to escape the country's violence and civil wars. In Central America, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Costa Ricans and Panamanians fled conflict and poor economic conditions.

[edit] Migration diasporas: A subject of debate

Some scholars argue that when economic migrants gather in such numbers outside their home region, they form an effective Diaspora:[citation needed] for instance, the Turkish Gastarbeiter in Germany; South Asians in the Persian Gulf; Filipinos worldwide; and Chinese workers in Japan. Since the 1970s, Mexican immigrants to the United States have been chiefly economic refugees coming for work; many have crossed the border illegally or remained undocumented aliens who never acquired legal residency or US citizenship.

Earlier mass movements of rural migration in the U.S. occurred: The two waves of the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North, Midwest and West comprised a diaspora and resulted in urbanization of more than 6.5 million African Americans from 1910-1970; many were recruited by northern businesses eager for labor for their developing industries, but the people were also voting with their feet to leave behind segregation, lynchings, disfranchisement and limited chances in a rural economy.

Historians identify as another diaspora the mass migration of people during the Dust Bowl years: the "Okies" from the drought-ridden American Great Plains and "Arkies" from the Ozarks of the American South in the 1930s; the majority of both groups went west to California.[citation needed]

More recently, some observers have labeled evacuation from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina a diaspora,[who?] since a significant number of evacuees have not been able to return, yet maintain aspirations to do so. Other scholars maintain that inclusion of such migrations under the heading of "diaspora" has caused a blurring of terms.[citation needed]

[edit] In popular culture

Futuristic science fiction sometimes refers to a diaspora, taking place when much of humanity leaves Earth to settle on far-flung "colony worlds.

İsmet Özel wrote a poem titled "Of not being a Jew" in which he lamented the fact that he felt like a pursued Jew, but had no second country to which he could go. He writes:

Your load is heavy
He's very heavy
Just because he's your brother
Your brothers are your pogroms
When you reach the doorsteps of your friends
Starts your Diaspora[citation needed]

In The Malazan Book of the Fallen, by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont, the Division of the Crimson Guard is known as the Diaspora. After the war between the Malazan Empire and the Guard ends in stalemate after a protracted duel between Skinner (of the Guards) and Dassem (first sword of the Empire) ends in a draw, the Guards' leader Kazz D'Avore disappears and the Guards split into companies to search for him. This search is also known as the Diaspora of the Malazans.

[edit] See also

[edit] Citations and notes

[edit] References

  • Kantor, Mattis, The Jewish time line encyclopedia: a year-by-year history from Creation to the Present, (New updated edition), Jason Aronson, Northvale NJ, 1992
  • Barclay, John M. G., (ed.), Negotiating Diaspora: Jewish Strategies in the Roman Empire, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004
  • Galil, Gershon, & Weinfeld, Moshe, Studies in Historical Geography and Biblical Historiography: Presented to Zekharyah Ḳalai, BRILL, 2000
  • Tetlow, Elisabeth Meier, Women, Crime, and Punishment in Ancient Law and Society, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005
  • Cohen, Robin, Global Diasporas: An Introduction, University of Washington Press Seattle, 1997
  • Shain, Yossi, Kinship and Diasporas in International Politics, Michigan University Press, 2007

[edit] External links

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