Welcome to the Diasporas – Exploring Critical Issues project home page. This inter- and multi-disciplinary project seeks to explore the contemporary experience of Diasporas – communities who conceive of themselves as a national, ethnic, linguistic or other form of cultural and political construction of collective membership living outside of their ‘home lands.’  In particular, key issues to be addressed include: what are the defining characteristics of Diasporas and what distinguishes one from the other? What role does ‘home’ and ‘host’ cultures play in developing relationships between communities in a global environment? How new is the concept of Diaspora; does it capture new global realities or designate old phenomena in a new way?

The project will also assess the larger context of major world transformations, for example, new forms of migration and the massive movements of people across the globe, as well as the impact and contribution of globalisation on tensions, conflicts and the sense of acceptance, rootedness and membership. Looking to encourage innovative trans-disciplinary dialogues, we warmly welcome papers from all disciplines, professions and vocations that struggle to understand what it means for people today to have diasporic experiences and a multiplicity of social, political and cultural memberships.

The project will critically engage with a number of core themes:

  • Defining and Grasping the Concept of Diasporas
  • Identifying the role of culture and politics; home and host; space and time; centre and periphery; numbers and collective imagination; class, opportunities, money and new communication technologies
  • Migration, Settlement and Identity
  • What does it mean, today, to belong to a nation, to an ethnic, religious or linguistic group, to a culture and to settle in a place that one does not call home?
  • Culture, Belonging and Collective Imaginations
  • Globalisation and the claims of Diasporas. What are the implications for traditions, language, literature, arts, cinema, television and other forms of representation and cultural production? New forms of global exclusion. Who can claim belonging to a Diaspora?
  • Institutions and Diasporas. Institutions that allow, maintain and reproduce Diasporas. What are the structures and forces which work against their formation?
  • The cultural and political context of host countries: acceptance vs xenophobia, fear and ignorance vs openness and knowledge
  • Diasporas in the making of social and public policy in host and home countries: remittances and economic dependencies, professions and commodity exchanges, social and cultural interlacing, policies of mutual recognition
  • Multiculturalism and Citizenship. In what ways have the various waves of immigration and resettlement of ethnic groups impacted on multicultural policies and practices? How does multiculturalism influence various types of participation in a host society? Does multiculturalism encourage a sense of citizenship, loyalty, and commitment to a host country?
  • Generational Change, National Consciousness and Identity Formation. Has generational change impacted on the meaning and concept of diaspora?  In what ways has the concept and discourse of diaspora been modified by the national narrative and consciousness of the generational descendants of diasporic groups?

Related themes will also be identified for development and exploration. Out of our deliberations it is anticipated that a series of related cross-context research projects will develop.