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Origins and development of the term::Diaspora

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Origins and development of the term The term is derived from the Greek verb διασπείρω (diaspeirō), "I scatter", "I spread about"<ref name=liddell/> and that from διά (dia), "between, through, across"<ref name=liddell/> + the verb σπείρω (speirō), "I sow, I scatter".<ref name=liddell/> In Ancient Greece the term διασπορά (diaspora) hence meant "scattering"<ref name=liddell/> and was inter alia used to refer to citizens of a dominant city-state who emigrated to a conquered land with the purpose of colonization, to assimilate the territory into the empire.<ref>pp.1-2, Tetlow</ref> An example of a diaspora from classical antiquity is the century-long exile of the Messenians under Spartan rule.

Its use began to develop from this original sense when the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek;<ref>p.81, Kantor</ref> the first mention of a diaspora created as a result of exile is found in the Septuagint,<ref name=liddell/> first in

  • Deuteronomy 28:25, in the phrase ἔσῃ ἐν διασπορᾷ ἐν πάσαις ταῖς βασιλείαις τῆς γῆς{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, esē en diaspora en pasais tais basileiais tēs gēs, translated to mean "thou shalt be a dispersion in all kingdoms of the earth"

and secondly in

  • Psalms 146(147).2, in the phrase οἰκοδομῶν Ἰερουσαλὴμ ὁ Kύριος καὶ τὰς διασπορὰς τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ ἐπισυνάξει{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, oikodomōn Ierousalēm ho Kyrios kai tas diasporas tou Israēl episynaxē, translated to mean "The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel".

So after the Bible's translation into Greek, the word Diaspora would then have been used to refer to the Northern Kingdom exiled between 740-722 BC from Israel by the Assyrians,<ref>Assyrian captivity of Israel</ref> as well as Jews, Benjaminites, and Levites exiled from the Southern Kingdom in 587 BCE by the Babylonians, and from Roman Judea in 70 CE by the Roman Empire.<ref>pp.53, 105-106, Kantor</ref> It subsequently came to be used to refer to the historical movements of the dispersed ethnic population of Israel, to the cultural development of that population or to that population itself.<ref>p.1, Barclay</ref> In English when capitalized and without modifiers (that is simply, the Diaspora), the term refers specifically to the Jewish diaspora;<ref name=webster/> when uncapitalized the word diaspora may be used to refer to refugee or immigrant populations of other origins or ethnicities living "away from an established or ancestral homeland".<ref name=webster/> 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.<ref>pp.96-97, Galil & Weinfeld</ref>

According to the Oxford English Dictionary Online, the first known recorded usage of the word diaspora in the English language was in 1876 referring "extensive diaspora work (as it is termed) of evangelizing among the National Protestant Churches on the continent".<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> 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.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }} An academic field, diaspora studies, has become established relating to this sense of the word.

In all cases, the term diaspora carries a sense of displacement the population so described finds itself for whatever reason separated from its national territory, and usually its people have 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{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Who |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[who?] }} 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. Diasporic cultural development often assumes a different course from that of the population in the original place of settlement. Over time, remotely separated communities tend to vary in culture, traditions, language and other factors. The last vestiges of cultural affiliation in a diaspora is often found in community resistance to language change and in maintenance of traditional religious practice.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }}

Expanding definition

In an article published in 1991, William Safran set out six rules to distinguish diasporas from migrant communities. These included criteria that the group maintains a myth or collective memory of their homeland; they regard their ancestral homeland as their true home, to which they will eventually return; being committed to the restoration or maintenance of that homeland; and they relate "personally or vicariously" to the homeland to a point where it shapes their identity.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}}{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}}{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} While Safran's definitions were influenced by the idea of the Jewish diaspora, he recognised the expanding use of the term.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}}

Rogers Brubaker (2005) also notes that use of the term diaspora has been widening. He suggests that one element of this expansion in use "involves the application of the term diaspora to an ever-broadening set of cases: essentially to any and every nameable population category that is to some extent dispersed in space".{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} Brubaker has used the WorldCat database to show that 17 out of the 18 books on diaspora published between 1900 and 1910 were on the Jewish diaspora. The majority of works in the 1960s were also about the Jewish diaspora, but in 2002 only two out of 20 books sampled (out of a total of 253) were about the Jewish case, with a total of eight different diasporas covered.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}}

Brubaker outlines the original use of the term diaspora as follows:

Most early discussions of diaspora were firmly rooted in a conceptual 'homeland'; they were concerned with a paradigmatic case, or a small number of core cases. The paradigmatic case was, of course, the Jewish diaspora; some dictionary definitions of diaspora, until recently, did not simply illustrate but defined the word with reference to that case.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}}

Brubaker argues that the initial expansion of the use of the phrase extended it to other, similar cases, such as the Armenian and Greek diasporas. More recently, it has been applied to emigrant groups that continue their involvement in their homeland from overseas, such as the category of long-distance nationalists identified by Benedict Anderson. Brubaker notes that (as examples): Albanians, Basques, Hindu Indians, Irish, Japanese, Kashmiri, Koreans, Kurds, Palestinians, and Tamils have been conceptualised as diasporas in this sense. Furthermore, "labour migrants who maintain (to some degree) emotional and social ties with a homeland" have also been described as diasporas.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}}

In further cases of the use of the term, "the reference to the conceptual homeland – to the 'classical' diasporas – has become more attenuated still, to the point of being lost altogether". Here, Brubaker cites "transethnic and transborder linguistic categories...such as Francophone, Anglophone and Lusophone 'communities'", along with Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Confucian, Huguenot, Muslim and Catholic 'diasporas'.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} Brubaker notes that, as of 2005, there were also academic books or articles on the Dixie, white, liberal, gay, queer and digital diasporas.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}}

Some observers have labeled evacuation from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina the New Orleans diaspora, since a significant number of evacuees have not been able to return, yet maintain aspirations to do so.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> Agnieszka Weinar (2010) notes the widening use of the term, arguing that recently, "a growing body of literature succeeded in reformulating the definition, framing diaspora as almost any population on the move and no longer referring to the specific context of their existence".{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} It has even been noted that as charismatic Christianity becomes increasingly globalized, many Christians conceive of themselves as a diaspora, and form an imaginary that mimics salient features of ethnic diasporas.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

Professional communities of individuals no longer in their homeland can also be considered diaspora. For example, science diasporas are communities of scientists who conduct their research away from their homeland.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> In an article published in 1996, Khachig Tölölyan<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> argues that the media have used the term corporate diaspora in a rather arbitrary and inaccurate fashion, for example as applied to “mid-level, mid-career executives who have been forced to find new places at a time of corporate upheaval” (10) The use of corporate diaspora reflects the increasing popularity of the diaspora notion to describe a wide range of phenomena related to contemporary migration, displacement and transnational mobility. While corporate diaspora seems to avoid or contradict connotations of violence, coercion and unnatural uprooting historically associated to the notion of diaspora, its scholarly use may heuristically describe the ways in which corporations function alongside diasporas. In this way, corporate diaspora might foreground the racial histories of diasporic formations without losing sight of the cultural logic of late capitalism in which corporations orchestrate the transnational circulation of people, images, ideologies and capital.


Diaspora sections
Intro  Origins and development of the term  European diasporas  African diaspora  Asian diaspora  Internal diasporas  20th century  21st century  Diaspora populations on the Internet  In popular culture  See also  Notes  References  External links  

Origins and development of the term
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