"Diaspora": Definitional Differences

Entered by Leong Yew

Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies

Uses diaspora in lower case. The authors share the OED's etymology but hinge "diaspora" around the process of western/European colonization. Diaspora is "the voluntary or forcible movement of peoples from their homelands into new regions..." (68). Under colonialism, diaspora is a multifarious movement, involving:

  • the "temporary or permanent" movement of Europeans all over the world, leading to colonial settlements. Consequently, the ensuing economic exploitation of the settled areas necessitated large amounts of labour that could not be fulfilled by the local populace. This leads to:
  • the diaspora resulting from the enslavement of Africans and their relocation to places like the British colonies. After slavery was outlawed, the continued demand for workers created indentured labour. This produces:
  • large bodies of people from poor areas of India, China (and others) to the West Indies, Malaya, Fiji, Eastern and Southern Africa, and Southeast Asia, etc.

The authors further note that diasporas are of importance to postcolonial studies because the descendents of these people have come produce highly unique cultures that both maintains and builds on the perceptions of their original cultures.

  • Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies. London and New York: Routledge, 1998. 68-70.

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Last Modified: 3 March 2002