diaspora, diaspora studies
A diaspora is a dispersion of people throughout the world. The term was first applied collectively to the Jews scattered after the Babylonian captivity, and in the modern period to Jews living outside of Palestine and latterly Israel, but has now been extended to include the situation of any widely spread migrant group.
During the late 1980s and 1990s, diaspora studies oftransnational experiences and communities developed as a self-conscious critique of earlier sociological approaches tointernational migration, this shift in terminology reflecting the more general turn towards globalization as a theme in macrosociology (although post-modernism and post-structuralism are also evident influences). Proponents argue that improvements in transport (such as cheap air fares) and communications (electronic mail, satellite television, the Internet ) have made it possible for diaspora communities, scattered across the globe, to sustain their own distinctive identities, life-styles, and economic ties. The rigid territorial nationalism that defines modern nation-states has in this way been replaced by a series of shifting and contested boundaries. Diaspora studies has spawned many new terms (‘imagined communities’, ‘global ethnospaces’, ‘preimmigration crucibles’) which describe these transnational influences, and the networks and communities under study, to substitute for the conventional terminology of immigration and assimilation. Typical studies would include Paul Gilroy's The Black Atlantic (1993) and Nancy Abelmann and John Lie's Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots (1995).
Enthusiasts argue that the new diaspora studies detail the complexity, diversity, and fluidity of migrant identities and experiences in a more realistic way than did the older mechanistic theories and models of international migration (which, it is claimed, emphasized unidirectional flows and influences, uprooting of migrants from their societies and cultures of origin, and assimilation via the melting pot into the new host culture). Critics point to the creation of pointless neologisms, abstruse theoretical terminology, apparent disregard for numbers and generalizations, and a tendency to ignore earlier sociological studies of migration (especially where these document complex structures of opportunity and migrant networks in ways which prefigure the new diaspora studies themselves). It is also said that the new diaspora studies unwarrantably overlook structural economic and political influences upon migration. Certainly, many are focused principally upon personal narratives of migrants, and document mainly the popular culture of the diaspora community.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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