Diasporic Theory and Diaspora Tropes
This graduate level course introduces students to a survey of critical approaches to understanding the meaning and applications of diaspora as a concept and discusses a range of approaches involved in developing an analytics of Diaspora formations, imaginaries and mobilizations. The course has five thematic sections. The first theme relates to the generic significance of diaspora. It discusses both the etymology and the genealogy of diaspora as a term and idea involved in accounts of human dispersals, migrations and displacements. It discusses the relevance of the analytical distinction between ethnographic and conceptual accounts of diaspora, as well as the meanings of "diaspora-space" and "diaspora-time." The second theme discusses the social and cultural impact of globalization on the emergence and prominence of diaspora; both historical and contemporary forms of globalization are understood in terms of their colonial and postcolonial dimensions in the dissemination of social identities and the circulation of cultural practices. This third section discusses what may be gained from thinking in terms of comparative diasporas, in particular it examines as exemplars of diaspora, the Jewish, African and South Asian diasporas. The final section discusses recent important developments in social and cultural theory that can be used to understand the tropes of diaspora in differently nuanced ways, particularly as the formation, imbrication and dispersion of meaningful discourses, enactments of identity and exchanges of cultural affinity/dissonance. It highlights the significance of creolization, genealogy and deconstruction in marking these features conceptually.
The following texts offer a representative, rather than exhaustive, sample from which readings may be drawn: Joseph Harris, Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora; David Scott, Refashioning Futures; Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic; Brent Edward Hayes, The Practice of Diaspora; Stuart Hall, The Stuart Hall Reader; Edouard Glissant, Caribbean Discourse; and Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism. Arjun Appardurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization; Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture; James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century; Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins eds. Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation; Mireille Rosello, Declining the Stereotype: Ethnicity and Representation in French Cultures; Jacques Derrida, Monolingualism of the Other, or the Prosthesis of Origin; Aihwa Ong, Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality; Robin Cohen, Global Diasporas; Jana Evans and Anita Mannur eds. Theorizing Diaspora: A Reader; Avtar Brah, Cartoggraphies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities; Jonathan Boyarin and Daniel Boyarin, Powers of Diaspora.