Coined in the third century B.C., the term diaspora has evolved into a buzzword used to describe the migrations of groups as diverse as ethnic populations, religious communities, and even engineers working abroad. This concise book provides a critical introduction to the concept of diaspora, bringing a fresh, synthetic perspective to virtually all aspects of this topic. Stéphane Dufoix incorporates a wealth of case studies—about the Jewish, Armenian, African, Chinese, Greek, and Indian experiences— to illustrate key concepts, give a clear overview on current thinking, and reassess the value of the term for us today.
Foreword by Roger Waldinger
Preface to the American Edition
1. What Is a Diaspora?
2. The Spaces of Dispersion
3. Maintaining Connections: Holding On and Letting Go
4. Managing Distance
About the Author and Translator
Stéphane Dufoix is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Paris X-Nanterre. He is a member of the Sophiapol (Political sociology, philosophy, and anthropology, Paris-X) and of the Centre d'histoire sociale du XXe siècle, the author of Politiques d'exil , and the editor, with Patrick Weil, of L'Esclavage, la colonisation, et après . . . France, Etats-Unis, Grande-Bretagne . He is a junior member of the Institut universitaire de France.
“Diasporas should prove to be both edifying and energizing.”—The Geographical Journal
"Stéphane Dufoix has written the most exhaustive, critical, and analytically sophisticated introduction to diasporas. It resists overemphasizing the transformative power of the present era of globalization and puts the formation of diasporas in a perspective of longue durée
that includes previous periods of global integration and diasporic dispersion. Similarly, he avoids the 'beyond the nation-state' trend in the transnationalism literature and shows convincingly that diasporas are intimately linked, in various and contradictory ways, to the politics of the contemporary nation-state."—Andreas Wimmer, University of California ,Los Angeles
"A work of exemplary range, clarity, and erudition, providing both an introduction and a deft critical reformulation. Diaspora, for Dufoix, is both a complex history and a cluster of proliferating discourses and practices whose future is undetermined. A lucid introduction and an original contribution to scholarship." —James Clifford, University of California, Santa Cruz
"By carefully tracing its origins and development, Stéphane Dufoix has produced an elegant and richly rewarding guide to the concept of 'diaspora.' The word can be used both too narrowly (confining the idea to the Jewish case) and too broadly (allowing virtually all minorities to qualify). We need a sure-footed guide to the complexities and ambiguities of 'diaspora' and we have found one in Stéphane Dufoix. I warmly recommend this instructive book."—Robin Cohen, University of Oxford, and author of Global Diasporas
"Stéphane Dufoix has given us a brilliant exploration of the many meanings and boundaries of the term 'diaspora'. Its far longer and diverse history than is commonly thought will come as a surprise to some. Dufoix's theoretical and analytical engagement with the term, and the erudition he brings to it, are an invitation to a whole new debate."—Saskia Sassen, author of Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages
Stéphane Dufoix gives us an excellent introduction to and overview of a fascinating and very complex topic. Considering this phenomenon from a variety of perspectives, including etymological, historical, and cultural, he shows how different populations and groups of scholars have used the idea of diaspora to conceptualize their own identities, and the strengths and weaknesses of using the concept of diaspora to do so. Dufoix's discussion of space and contemporary virtual communities is particularly fascinating. This is a very welcome addition to an ever-growing literature."—Tyler Stovall, University of California, Berkeley