Diasporas

Essay Excerpt

This essay asks what is at stake, politically and intellectually, in contemporary invocations of diaspora. It discusses problems of defining a traveling term, in changing global conditions. How do diaspora discourses represent experiences of displacement, of constructing homes away from home? What experiences do they reject, replace, or marginalize? How do these discourses attain comparative scope while remaining rooted/routed in specific, discrepant histories? The essay also explores the political ambivalence, the utopic/dystopic tension, of diaspora visions that are always entangled in powerful global histories. It argues that contemporary diasporic practices cannot be reduced to epiphenomena of the nation-state or of global capitalism. While defined and constrained by these structures, they also exceed and criticize them: old and new diasporas offer resources for emergent "postcolonialisms." The essay focuses on recent articulations of diasporism from contemporary black Britain and from anti-Zionist Judaism: quests for nonexclusive practices of community, politics, and cultural difference (302).

Clifford, James. "Diasporas." Cultural Anthropology 9.3(1994): 302–338.

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