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Some Conceptual Considerations
In the current discourse on diasporas some confusion arises because of the multiplicity of meanings assigned to this word. These meanings overlap and are often combined in the minds of someone using this word. It might make the discourse more fruitful if we could agree on some major dimensions or parameters that identify key variables applicable to the analysis and explanation of diasporic phenomena. The entries given below identify some of these parameters. Short annotations following each concept description seek to clarify the concept and suggest some of its sub-concepts or variables.
These parameters are described in text that identify their essential characteristics. They are based on information in papers presented at the Diaspora panel held on 18 February 1999 at the International Studies Association (ISA) conference in Washington.
To facilitate easy identification, a familiar word is suggested for each parameter. Admittedly they are not established terms, but if we want to use these concepts frequently, we cannot keep repeating their descriptions. To facilitate discourse, and to make it easier for a writer to specify the parameters applicable to her or his discourse, I shall use these words below, not for whatever meanings they may have already, but rather just for the concept described in these entries. However, they are only suggestions, and readers are invited to propose more apt terms for each concept.
I shall use homeland to refer to the region or country from which migrants came or identify themselves, and hostland to represent whatever country or region they may be living in. Broadly speaking, we may think of a diaspora as any community of individuals living outside their homeland who identify themselves in some way with the state or peoples of that homeland. Any such community is merely a fuzzy set of individuals whose members (I will call them diasporans) act individually to express their identities and, more significantly, they may organize themselves in various ways to enhance their influence or achieve their goals. Rarely, if ever, do all diasporans organize as a single collectivity – consequently, diaspora organizations often clash with each other or simply seek different goals. It is incorrect to reify the notion of a diaspora or speak of it as "acting" or "doing" anything. All the actions by diasporans are those they carry out individually, or through organized groups of which they are members. The properties and conduct of diasporas are affected by such variables as those identified below.
By contrast, it is important to make a distinction between diasporas and dispersions , i.e. communities who for any reason have fled or been driven from their homelands. A discussion of this distinction is provided at the linked texts found below. Some additional underlying concepts taken for granted in the text are discussed in note #3 , and presented in that note in schematic form under the heading key concepts.
The methodology used here inverts the familiar semantic paradigm found in dictionaries. The words that head each paragraph are not defined in the text that follows. Rather, the italicized text describes a concept, and the head term is simply a tag selected, perhaps arbitrarily, to represent that concept. If the tag seems to be inappropriate, we need to find or invent a better one. Thus, diaspora and dispersion are usually treated as synonyms, but here I propose using them to make an important distinction.
Any text following each concept description is designed only to clarify or elaborate the concept, not to modify it. Any concept description that seems inadequate can, of course, be supplemented or replaced by another text that identifies a more useful or different concept. All of the head terms have a broad significance that should, in this context, be understood as referring to diasporas. Thus IDENTITY has many meanings, but here it is intended to refer to the identification of diasporans. This is just a preliminary set of possibilities – no doubt revisions involving the addition and subtraction of concepts will be needed.
Note: The paragraphs that follow identify variable concepts (parameters or dimensions) that seem to be important in the study of diasporas. They are arranged in a sequence that the author views as logically coherent. Each concept has been assigned a "tag" (term) to represent it. To facilitate reference, an alphabetical list of these tags follows, and may be used to link to the relevant paragraph.
The word, tag is used here because these are not established terms for these concepts. Rather, they are provisional tools for representing variables rather than levels or degrees on a variable. In physics we often have good terms like "temperature" for degrees ranging from "cold" to"hot" or "weight" to represent a scale from "weightless" to "weighty." However, in social science we rarely have terms to represent variation between such polar contraries as "particularistic/univesalistic," "specific/diffuse", or "localized/centralized."
Here I am suggesting affect to represent variations between "opposition/neutrality/ support" in the attitude of diasporans toward their homelands, localization to refer to the exten to which diasporans live near each other or widely scattered. Not all these concepts are unidimensional, however -- instead, they may refer to a package of options, such as geography for the countries in which diasporans live, or initiatives to represent a host of factors that may induce diasporans to act. The definition rubric involves criteria used to decide whether or not to class a community as in diaspora. No doubt other parameters can be added and some of those proposed here could be deleted. The tags used to characterize each of them are tentative and may well be revised.
Secondary links on each of these paragraphs will take readers to a corresponding Annex entry providing illustrative texts taken from papers presented at the ISA Panel on DIASPORAS at the ISA conference, Feb. 1999. Each of these entries is preceded by an asterisk (*) that links to the paper from which it is taken, providing the full context for each truncated text. Annex entries are also followed by links that return the reader to the list that follows. The posted papers from which these excerpts have been taken are also marked by asterisk links at the start of each quoted text. Readers using this material are urged to give some feed-back to the authors to help them see whether or not this technique is useful and to learn how it can be improved. Mailto forms at the end of this document invite you to respond.
A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
This text includes two terms that need explanation: "informal," and "active." See note 1.
Informal is a negative criterion that excludes persons having a formal status, i.e. one that involves homeland support, as by the employment and financing of soldiers, diplomats, missionaries, business men, journalists, advisers, colonial officers, spies, etc. Their status as agents of the state or of non-state entities in their homelands excludes them from the status of diasporans. By contrast, diasporans maintain links with their homeland even though their sources of support exist elsewhere. No doubt these are fuzzy sets and cases can easily be found where individuals combine support from their homelands with external support, but the broad distinction seems to be important.
Active is a positive criterion that involves the maintenance of interactive relationships. Normally there exist an indefinite number of persons who could be active but are not. I think of them as latent diasporans because there is always a possibility that they could become active. Thus, a third generation settler who has become fully assimilated in h/er hostland may be stimulated by some chance encounter, conversation, reading, insult, or other event to take an interest in h/er homeland and be drawn into activities involving active contract. The existence of latent diasporans can be viewed as contextual, affecting the growth or decline of diasporas. The exclusion of formal and latent residents outside a homeland narrows the concept of a diaspora to make it more coherent and meaningful.
The dimensions that follow are intended to apply to all diasasporas. However, there are different kinds of diasporas and we need additional concepts to be able to distinguish between them. Diaspora studies no doubt started with ideal typical complexes based on the properties found in the Jewish Diaspora. 2 However, I think that if we can identify key concepts or parameters applicble to all diasporas, then we can more easily formulate and test useful propositions. We also need criteria that can be used to distinguish between different types of diasporas and related phenomena that we would not view as diasporas.3 Return to the list.
HOMELAND : location
of the jurisdiction or area that diasporans view as their homeland
Three types of diaspora may be recognized on the basis of the status of their homelands. The easiest to recognize occurs when the homeland is an independent state. The most important diasporas in contemporary world affairs are oriented to an ethnic nation that is not a state. The most numerous but unproblematic diasporas are those whose homeland is neither a state nor a nation. A few comments about each follow.
State-oriented diasporans usually retain their citizenship while living abroad and many have a formal status as employees of an organization located in their home state. As formal diasporans they are not included in the concept of (informal) diasporas considered here. Israelis, Cubans and Cypriots in diaspora provide good examples. State-oriented diasporans are normally patriotic and, like the Israelis, support their homeland government. However, as the Cuban case illustrates, they may also oppose the regime in power while remaining attached to their home country. A more ambivalent case can be seen among the Cypriots who tend to be divided between Greeks and Turks on a nationalist basis. We might use patriate diasporan to refer to citizens outside their home state who support the regime in power there. By contrast, those who oppose the regime might be called activist diasporans. These are suggested neologisms that are not established in the literature and may easily be replaced by more suitable terms.
Ethnonational diasporas are linked to non-state nations whose homeland typically centers in a region within one state, like the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, or crosses state boundaries, like the Kurds whose homeland is divided beween four states. The Albanians in Kosovo do not see themselves as in diaspora with the state of Albania. Rather, they seek independence and a state of their own, calling on members of their diaspora to help them achieve their goals.
Most Palestinians in diaspora support the creation of a Palestinian state -- if and when such a state is created, their status would change to that of a state-based diaspora. Bosnians in diaspora tend to identify primarily with one of its ethnic nations: Croats, Serbs, or Muslims. Kurds in diaspora may call for the creation of an independent Kurdistan, or just for autonomy within one country. Among Nigerians in diaspora, one may see a difference between ethnic nationalists, like the Biafrans, who seek independence for their ethnic homeland, and the patriate Nigerians who struggle, as activists, to achieve democracy and oppose military dictatorship for their state.
Ethnonational diasporas often settle within the state where their homeland is located -- indigenous Americans in the U.S., Chechens in Russia, Scots in the UK, aboriginals in Australia, Maories in New Zealand, etc. Being in diaspora, therefore, does not require crossing state boundaries for many ethnonations.
Our third category is residucal and includes ideological movements, like Russian Communists who try to mobilize sympathizers in the Russian diaspora; entrepreneurs whose members support each other in different countries but retain an ethnic identity, as do some Chinese, Indian, Lebanese and Armenian merchants; religious communities who retain contacts among members in different countries, like the Amish, the Bahai, Armenian Christians, Russian Old Believers -- but most religious communities with members in many coutries lack a homeland that would justify references to them as a diaspora. Similarly, although multinational corporations work in many countries, their dispersed employees would not be classed as diasporans. However, migrants from a village or district who maintain close ties with their families and friends at home constitute a numerous type of micro-diaspora. Although undoubtedly very numerous, these disaporas are highly heterogeneous and normally not problematical enough to justify much concern. Return to the list.
the geographical distribution of diasporans
At one extreme, diasporans may be concentrated in one country, as are Cubans in the U.S., althogh a second concentration of Cubans can be found in Venezuala. At the other extreme, diasporans are widely distributed in many countries -- I'm not sure about a good example, but Tibetans, French or Americans may qualify. A normal pattern of concentration might involve many countries, with a skewing effect so that many more can be found in a few countries with the rest scattered in small clusters. The same principle applies within each country: thus most Cubans in the U.S. concentrate in Miami, but others are widely distributed. Influence and leadership in diasporas is probably linked with density of settlement -- thus the more diasporans concentrate in one place and one country, the more influence the concentrated diasporans will have by comparison with those who live in more scattered locations. Return to the list.
grounds for interaction between diasporans and their homeland
Different layers of identity within a diaspora occur in non-hierarchical and overlapping patterns. There are many criteria that characterize the types of activity in which diasporans engage. They may involve cultural, linguistic, familial, religious, social, economic, political, educational, informational, or any combination of these and other interests? At the individual level, diasporans can identify themselves at any levels that interest them. Thus any Francophone in Canada may relate to France in terms of language maintenance and development. Those living in Quebec during the administration of President DeGaulle may also identify politically with France, but Quebecois who demand independence may be viewed as an ethnic nation not in diaspora. Some diasporans engage only in activities that involve their native villages or extended families, others specialize in the flow of information, become absorbed in religious, sports, artistic, or patriotic activities –- entrepreneurs and traders focus on economic interests involving their homelands. Some engage in all these forms of interaction, whereas others may focus on just one. Return to the list.
the relative degree to which diasporans identify with their homelands
and their hostlands
Some assimilate in their hostlands and maintain only a marginal or selective interest in their homelands whereas, by contrast, others remain rooted in their homelands and view their hostlands as only a temporary abode. Increasingly, we find transnationals who are often involved in several countries, hold multiple citizenships, and may feel equal degrees of attachment to two or more countries. These feelings may range from very intense to mildly sentimental, and of course they may wax and wane over time. They may also vary between identity layers --- while some are waxing others may be waning. Diaspora studies need to take all of these possibilities into account. Return to the list
the extent to which members of a diaspora form organizations to advance
At one extreme, migrants act only as individuals and display no sense of solidarity with fellow-diasporans, but at the other extreme, they eagerly join associations, unions, clubs, political parties, and other movements designed to promote their interests. It is unusual for diasporans to support a single organization, so that rivalry and even conflict between different diasporan groups is commonplace. Among the more unified diasporan communities one might think of the Tibetans in exile who, for the most part, accept the leadership of the Dalai Lama. Return to the list.
degree to which diasporans support or oppose their homeland, or view it
Some diasporans strive to overthrow, strengthen, or accept the status quo in their homeland. These attitudes sometimes are directed toward homeland states, and also often toward non-governmental entities, including ethnic or ethnonational communities within or cutting across states. Return to the list.
EXTERNALITIES: factors outside of any diaspora that affect the attitudes and behavior of its members.
CITIZENSHIP: laws governing the legal status
of diasporans that affect and are affected by their behavior.
When home and host lands accept dual citizenship, transnational migrations are facilitated. However, when states insist that individuals can be citizens of only one state, and regulate or restrict the rights of citizens, laws governing citizenship impinge significantly on the conduct and attitudes of diasporans. Strict adherence to jus sanguinis rather than jus soli causes many such problems for diasporans. Return to the list.
GENESIS: how and when diasporas come into existence
Most diasporas are created by migrations, but boundary changes can also put diasporans outside their homeland even though they never left home. Most research on diasporas focuses on mobile communities created by migration, but cleft diasporas caused by boundary changes are also quite numerous and need to be studied. Of course the two categories overlap, as when members of a cleft diaspora experience persecution and seek refuge elsewhere, sometimes in their homelands but often also by joining mobile diasporans.
Another important distinction can be made between diasporans who have lived in their homeland and those who have not. The former are migrants who have left home, but the latter include persons who have never lived in their homelands, even though they may have visited it. For the most part, these are descendents of migrants who retain ties with their homeland, but it may include persons who for any reason identify with a land they have only dreamed or heard about. An example might be Jews in diaspora who identify with Israel. This distinction is important enough to justify a terminological distinction between endo-diasporans who have left their homeland, and ecto-diasporans who have never lived there. Ecto- can mean outside of, and is preferable to exo- which often means former and could, therefore, be ambiguous. An important distinction exists in the Jewish dispersion between members of Israel's endo-diasporan and ecto-diasporan communities. However, this situation is probably exceptional with few parallels in other diasporas.
The chronology of diaspora formation is important and often creates overlapping communities with different perspectives and goals. Generational and gender differences may also be important: whether migrants are young or old, married or single. Genesis can focus on distinctions between those who come in large numberes as a big wave, or in small groups, as individuals or families, trickling along. The motives and status of migrants are also important: whether they move as refugees or voluntarily, and whether they are impoverished and unskilled or professional with resources -- and, of course many possible mixture between these extremes. Cleft diasporas vary greatly depending on how their neigbors treat them, what political forces led to boundary change, what treaty rights they may have, whether they live near or far from the border that surrounds their homeland, what policies homeland states or agencies may follow, etc. Return to the list.
variations in the duration of residence abroad.
The most obvious distinction involves short to long term-residence in a hostland. When descendents of migrants retain or cultivate homeland relationships, temporality can extend inter-generationally. It may include transnationals who frequently move back and forth between different lands, as well as sedentary folks who settle and live, more or less permanently in a hostland while retaining ties of various kinds with their homelands. Return to the list.
that affect the behavior of diasporans.
Diasporas are not static; their membership expands or contracts, not just for demographic reasons but also because individuals decide to identify more or less with their homelands for changing reasons. We may speak of diasporization to refer to the growth of diasporas -- not so much by new arrivals as by the mobilization of recruits among hostland residents -- and, by contrast, of de-diasporization for the decline of such communities. Return to the list.
the source of stimuli that induce diasporans to act.
Initiatives may come from the homeland, including both the state and non-state organizations. They may also arise within hostlands from the changing interests of diasporans themselves. A wide range of possibilities -- including pressures or inducements arising within both home and hostlands -- may stimulate or provoke responses among diasporans. Return to the list.
the location of hostlands where diasporans live.
Diasporans may live in the same country where their homelands are located, or in different countries. The places where migrants live affect their lives in ways that distinguish members of a diaspora living in one place from those living elsewhere. Great inter-regional differences often characterize members of the same diaspora. Return to the list.
the extent to which diasporans live near each other, or scattered.
Diasporans localized within an urban "ghetto" are likely to behave quite differently from those who are widely scattered without neighbors sharing their homeland identity. Return to the list.
STATUS: the occupations and family background of diasporans.
The higher the socio-economic status of diasporans, the easier it is for them to maintain relations with their homelands, but these valued characteristics may also facilitate their integration in hostlands and reduce their incentives for maintaining home country relationships. By contrast, lower status migrants may find that it is difficult to maintain their homeland linkages. However, if they experience serious problems in their hostland, they may also engage more actively in the quest for homeland linkages. Of course, these are rough guesses and it would be necessary to make comparative studies in order to support or reject them. Return to the list.
efforts by diasporan organizations to influence the policies of host
states, international bodies or other agencies as they affect conditions
in their homelands.
Students of international relations should have a special interest in the role of diasporas as a factor in the conduct of foreign policy. One can think of Cuban Americans, for example, as a major force in the formation of U.S. policy toward Cuba, or of Jewish diasporans as an influence on policies affecting Israel. Return to the list.
policies of homeland states or non-governmental organizations designed
to influence, protect or punish their diaspora communities.
No doubt some states are indifferent to migrants who have left their boundaries, but more commonly we may assume that they have policies, both positive and negative, related to matters affecting their diasporas. They may be ambivalent as expressed in Israel’s negative feelings about its emigrants linked, however, with efforts to recruit them as returnees. The extension of a state’s policies toward diasporans may be viewed as a reciprocal of diasporan efforts to intervene for or against their homelands. Return to the list.
No doubt there are other dimensions of variation affecting diasporas that need to be taken into account. Moreover, each of the dimensions identified above affects and overlaps with all the others. Each can be used, in principle, to characterize a community but we need to remember that the other dimensions may vary with it. To characterize any particular community, it may be important to think about the various relevant dimensions and consider their influence. Certain patterns may recur often enough to justify creating a kind of stereotype or gestalt to support comparisons between communities that share these properties, thereby facilitating the development of explanatory theories.
Although diaspora communities may and perhaps usually are studied as ethnic minorities, they also justify analysis as actors in international politics and world affairs. Globalization has accelerated the flow of peoples so that, today, virtually every country and important ethnonational communities in many countries have diasporas. The political and economic activities of diasporan organizations blur the distinction between domestic and international affairs, supporting links that abridge the sovereignty of states and also extend the scope of their foreign policies. Students of globalization, of inter-state relations, and of comparative politics, need to pay attention to diasporas as increasingly important factors in world affairs.
The concepts proposed above constitute a tentative listing. This document is only provisional and readers are invited to join in a continuing process of elaborating and revising the text in order to make it a more useful instrument. They may contribute to this process by writing the author at: Fred W. Riggs.
1. A homeland may exist only in the imagination,
as did the Zionist dream of a return to Zion for many centuries. In contemporary
global politics, however, we may suppose that diasporas always have an
existing homeland to relate to. Since the term diaspora has been borrowed
from the classic Jewish case, a conceptual distinction can usefully be
made between the idea of a dispersion and a diaspora, two
words that are often used as synonyms. We could define any
Purists may well object that diaspora should not be used to represent this concept which departs from the original idea of a dispersal without a homeland, except as imagined -- see note #3. However, in contemporary usage, I think diaspora has acquired this new meaning, and it would be even more artificial to use dispersal instead or to propose a neologism. To illustrate the distinction concretely, we might say that prior to the creation of Israel, Jews living in many countries were dispersed, and some among them embraced the Zionist dream of a return. Although Diaspora was used to refer to them, they became a diaspora in the modern sense only after Israel was created. However, all Jews living outside of Israel today may be referred to as the Jewish dispersion. If this seems artificial, I hope some reader will propose a better option.
This distinction also enables us to distinguish more easily between today's Jewish dispersion and the Israeli diaspora which includes members of the Jewish dispersal who interact with Israel. However, since there are many people who consider themselves to be Jewish, but do not identify with or support Israel, we may say that some but not all members of the Jewish dispersal belong to the Israeli diaspora. Moreover, although most members of the Israeli diaspora are Jews who support Israel, some are not Jews and they are likely to oppose Israel.
This usage creates another puzzle: how to distinguish between Israelis who have emigrated and members of the Israeli diaspora who have never lived in Israel. As noted in the discussion of GENESIS we can use endo-diasporans to speak of the former and ecto-diasporans to refer to the latter. We could identify the Israeli dispersion as composed of Israelis who have left Israel whether or not they maintain their connections with the homeland. Dispersed Israelis not in diaspora may, however, be latent diasporans with the potential for returning to a relationship. Among Israelis in endo-diaspora, we should distinguish betweeh those who are Jews and support Irael and non-Jews who frequently oppose Isreal.
Since Israel is attempting to attract talented professionals for its burgeoning economy, it seeks recruits in both its endo- and ecto-diasporas, and may not distinguish between them. However, we may assume that these recruiters concentrate on the Jewish members of its endo-diaspora, ignoring its non-Jewish members. In the context of ethnic diversity in North America, by contrast, the differences between Israel's endo- and ecto-diasporan Jewish communities create ethnic problems. Muslims in Israel's endo-diaspora may have similar problems relating to the Palestinian diaspora but I have no information about their situation.
There are not many parallels in other diasporas, but one possibility includes the Armenians. Those who fled from Turkey have no homeland and constitute a dispersion, not a diaspora. However, since independent (ex-Soviet) Armenia now exists, an Armenian diaspora exists for Armenians living outside of Armenia who choose to interact with that state. Some of them constitute an ecto-diaspora composed of individuals interacting with the state of Armenia but choosing not to live there. There may also be an Armenian endo-diaspora composed of migrants from Armenia. Dispersed Armenians who reject Armenia and wish for a new homeland in Turkey belong to the dispersion, but not a "diaspora" as this term has been used here. Anyone who rejects this usage is encourged to suggest a synonym for members of a dispersion who aspire to but lack an existing homeland.
One possibility that comes to mind rests on the meaning of zionist. Instead of using it only as the name (Zionist) of a Jewish community, one could use this word, as a common noun, to refer to all members of any dispersion who dream of restoring a "promised" ancestral homeland. In this sense, members of the Armenian dispersion who reject Armenia may identify with an Armenian zionist community. The Jewish connotations of this word are so strong, however, that I doubt anyone would accept this idea. Another possibility would be to propose a neologism like shadow diaspora. However, there are so few cases that I doubt it is worth the effort and will not mention this idea again.
2. An Ideal Type: the Jewish Diaspora. The definitions offered in this paper are by no means established -- rather, they should be considered proposals. Traditionally, the term is derived from its usages in the context of the Jewish Diaspora and provides the basis for an "ideal type" or "classic case", that is to say, a composite mixture of several concepts all of which can be found in a single case. A good example of this approach can be found in Safran (1991). He proposes that "...the concept of diaspora be applied to expatriate minority communities whose members share several of the following characteristics," which I will summarize here as follows:
There are many cases in which some but not all of these features are present. As a result, the effort to class any particular community as in diaspora runs into problems when it lacks all six of these properties. An alternative approach focuses on a single concept and treats all the others as related variables that may exist to a greater or lesser extent in particular cases. For example, if we were to focus attention on #6, we could then identify more or less confidently a set of communities living outside their homeland while remaining in contact with it. Similarly, focusing on #1 we could identify groups of people who have left their original homeland to live elsewhere. No doubt these two properties often coincide, but not always.
To illustrate this approach consider that although all Jews outside of Israel may be viewed as descendants of those who went into exile long ago (#1), some of them do not maintain relations with Israel (#6). Similarly, there are people who maintain relations with their homeland but never went into exile -- they may, for example, have been separated by boundary changes, like the Hungarians living outside Hungary's present-day borders in several neighboring countries. This example illustrates the notion of overlapping circles, e.g., A and B, which create a third category, AB. .In our case, some communities share characteristics #1 and #6, but there are also communities which have #1 without #6, and others fit #6 but not #1.
When the other numbered concepts are added, it becomes apparent that each of them can be viewed as another overlapping circle which sometimes includes and often may not include the other features identified in this set. The approach proposed in this paper treats these and various other variables as parameters that may exist in greater or less degree in all cases.
To do so conveniently, we need terms for each variable. Here, I have proposed that we use DISPERSION to represent concept #1, and DIASPORA for #6. Admittedly, both words are often used as synonyms and, historically, 'diaspora' was probably a transliteration from one language to another of 'dispersion'. In the contemporary literature, my reading of current usage is that most references to a diaspora stress the continuing relationship between dispersed communities and their homelands. Such relationships may or may not involve the properties identified above in #2 to #4, each of which can be represented as a separate parameter: e.g., myth, alienation, idealization, and commitment These attributes do not correspond precisely with the parameters identified in this paper, but they can usefully be compared with them. Consider the following:
#2 Myth. The HOMELAND parameter includes all kinds of modes of idealization, rejection, or fantasies regarding the place with which diasporans interact. Among these one would expect to find, in some cases, a "collective memory, vision, or myth about their original homeland".
#3 Alienation. The SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS parameter asserts that when diasporans "experience serious problems in their hostland, they may also engage more actively in the quest for homeland linkages." Thus alienation in their hostlands is a factor, though surely not a necessary condition, for diasporans to want to retain or cultivate homeland connections.
Economic and political considerations may, indeed, counteract alienation by rewarding ethnic entrepreneurs. Ethnic exploitation (or ethnotation as one might call it) rewards diasporans who maintain homeland ties as a commercial resource. A leading example involves the expanding global taste for exotic foods that may now be obtained through electronic wizardry -- see the Ethnic Grocer . As ethnic diversity increases, the taste for exotic products grows, rewarding diasporans who now amplify ancient trading networks over the INTERNET. However, appreciation of ethnic goodies is not always accompanied by respect for their providers and ambivalence persists as a contradictory ambiance.
#4 Idealilzation. The AFFECT parameter relates to the extent to which diasporans idealize, demonize, or create myths about their homelands. In the Jewish Diaspora this involved beliefs about Zion as a theologically holy land to which Jews would some day "return." We might generalize this notion by using zionism as a common noun to designate an important form that idealization of a diaspora's home land may take..
#5 Commitment. The SOLIDARITY parameter suggests that committed diasporans will "join associations, unions, clubs, political parties, and other movements designed to promote" their common cause. This variable involves, I think, not just attitudes but actions as indicated by the formation and activities of organized groups.
In summary, I would propose that we treat all these properties as variables that may or may not exist in varying degrees among diaspora communities, as defined in #6 by their interactions with a homeland. As for #1, dispersions, no doubt most but not all diasporas result from dispersals, but there are surely many dispersed communities not in touch with their homelands and, therefore, not to be classed as diasporans. When we select concepts for use in theoretical analyses and explanations, it is important to consider the context -- what is the goal to be achieved. The early literature on diasporas no doubt started from the observation that the Jewish experience in Diaspora had apparent counterparts in other societies. This launched a quest to determine the extent to which similar characteristics can be found in other societies.
The framework informing the analysis presented in this paper starts from a different premise. It assumes that as a result of modernization and globalization, two reinforcing phenomena have evolved. First, greater conquests and the recent collapse of these empires has created a growing number of ethnonational movements demanding independence or autonomy and of revolutionary demands for fundamental political change. Although many activists in these movements live in their homelands, many now also live abroad -- or have lived abroad in the recent past. As a result, modern ethnic nationalism is not only based in homelands but draws strength and inspiration from their diasporas. Ideas such as these informed the participants in the panel on "Diasporas" held at the ISA conference in Washington, February 1999, and this paper is anchored in the data provided by these papers.
William Safran, 1991. "Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies." Vol.1, no.1,
3. Etymologically, it seems, diaspora and dispersion had the same meaning. According to Howard Adelman, diaspora was a transliteration into Hebrew (or Aramaic?) of the Greek word meaning dispersion. At that time it did not refer to any migration of peoples, but rather to God's punishment for Jews who failed to uphold His commandments. It evolved to mean a refugee community composed of people expelled from their homeland.
Subsequently the Jews used diaspora to refer to themselves as an immigrant community as distinguished from those forced into exile who were called the galut. Adelman infers that this reflected a political change: those who left home during periods of independence (diaspora) did so voluntarily as migrants, by contrast with those who were forced into exile (galut) by conquerors. After a time, this distinction became irrelevant and diaspora came to mean all those living outside their homeland regardless of whether their ancestors left home voluntarily or involuntarily.
A further evolution reported by Adelman involves the current use of diaspora to refer to ethnic groups anywhere in the world who work with those in their homeland to fight for independence. In this sense, diaspora takes on a modern ethnonational connotation in which members of a dispersed community support nationalist movements for sovereignty or independence.
Turning to Webster's Collegiate dictionary, I find that Diaspora is used, as a capitalized name, for the Jewish Diaspora, understood to mean colonies of Jews living outside Palestine, or the places where they live -- and in recent times, those living outside of Israel. A second dictionary meaning, written without capitalization (diaspora) refers to the process of scattering people from their homelands, or the communities formed as a result, or the places where they live. The sense of interacting with a homeland to support independence is not mentioned.
As for dispersion, its connotations have broadened to include unrelated meanings in statistics, optics, and other fields. However, when capitalized, Dispersion remains synonymous with Diaspora as a name for the Jews in exile.
This brief survey identifies some important concepts that we need to use, although we lack unequivocal terms for each of them. There are some other related concepts that we need although they are not included among those identified above. Using an onomantic approach (from concepts to terms) rather than a semantic approach (from words to their meanings) we might consider the following cluster of relevant concepts needed in research on modern diasporas. After each concept description one or more terms are proposed. Terms that are not a part of the established lexicon are italicized. When there are more than one term for a concept, I underline the one to be used in other concept descriptions.
These are not definitions, a word used to designate the meanings of established words. Concepts can be described whether or not they have terms, and the terms suggested for them may be neologisms or familiar words for which a new meaning is stipulated.
A. Places where people live: country, domicile, land
B. The people living in hostlands: dispersions
C. Dispersions characterized by interaction with their homelands: diasporas
Diasporas classed by status of their homeland
Diasporas characterized analytically
Diasporas classed by residence in their homeland
More distinctions can be added, such as the intensity and frequency of interactions with a homeland; the modes of interaction (political, economic, social, cultural, communications, etc.); the attitudes (hostile, supportive, neutral ) of diasporans toward their homeland; the geographic location and distribution of diasporans, etc. However, this example illustrates the approach used in this paper. Readers are invited to propose additional related concepts that might be added -- or revisions of the array of concepts identified above.
Note: In this annex, which is arranged alphabetically by parameters (variable concepts), excerpts from papers of the Diaspora Panels presented at the ISA conference, Washington, DC, February 1999, are quoted to illustrate how the concepts have been used. The first paper quoted in each entry is by Holly Ackerman (HA) on Cubans in diaspora; and the second, by Kole Ahmed Shettima (KS) relates to the Nigerian diaspora. As time permits, excerpts from the other papers will be added. Each entry starts with the key term and its definition, followed by the excerpted texts and a number representing the page number in the printed paper where the text can be found. Asterisks support links to the Web Site where its context can be seen. In some cases, italicized comments by Riggs are inserted.
AFFECT: the degree to which diasporans support or oppose their homeland, or view it with neutrality.
[GL/AA: Israel] *It is very significant that as Israel has experienced rapid economic and military strength, its traditional economic support from the Jewish diaspora, particularly in the United States has declined. Israel's import of capital from Jewish organizations in the United States has experienced a notable decline, as a result of a shift in priorities that have coincided with the passing of the older generation of American Jewish community leaders whose formative years were spent during the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel, in contrast to the younger generation of leaders, to whom Israel has been a fact of life.(1) 17
[HA: Cuba]* The Miami diaspora is, therefore, living in a hostland but simultaneously undertaking reconquest. 6
[HA: Cuba]* Tension in U.S./Cuban relations prior to 1959 continues to be "historical baggage" that is carried in Miami but is not present in Venezuela. As a result, the Venezuelan groups can tolerate greater diversity both politically and socially. 14
[KS: Nigeria]* The climax of the
pro-democracy activities was the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 of his
Ogoni colleagues in the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People. This
event led to worldwide condemnation of the military junta and suspension
of the country from the Commonwealth in 1995. The judicial-murder of Ken
Saro Wiwa energized the pro-democracy activists [in diaspora]..
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CITIZENSHIP: laws governing the legal status of diasporans that affect and are affected by their behavior.
[GL/AA: Israel] * The role of the State of Israel for Jews who do not live in Israel has been translated into practice by the 1951 Law of Return policy, which entitles every Jew automatic citizenship. 5
[HA: Cuba]*Cubans continue to enter Venezuela either by overstaying tourist visas, crossing borders when assigned to international contract work in neighboring countries, arranging marriages (a small industry between Cuba and Venezuela), or by working with the blessing of the Cuban government and enjoying multiple entry visas for both countries... In exchange for U.S. subsidy, the Venezuelans extended transient immigration status to 21 Cuban rafters who were sent from Guantanamo after being picked up at sea in 1997 by U.S. Coast Guard ships but found to have reasonable claims for asylum. Whether this pattern of subsidized diaspora is a new policy practice of U.S. authorities remains to be seen. 12
[There is no comment in Shettima's paper on the issue of citizenship..]
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CONCENTRATION: the geographical distribution of diasporans
[GL/AA: Israel] * Ehrlich and Lahis were concerned only with yeridah (emigration) to the United States, since it was clear that that country was the major destination for yordim. The Lahis Report, published in 1980, reported between 300,000 and 500,000 yordim in the United States (with the majority of them in New York and Los Angeles). 11
[HA: Cuba]* ...the Miami community developed in a geographic area that was underpopulated... this geographic reality permitted Cuban newcomers to establish an enclave that developed into the dominant group. Cuban culture, business and politics did not melt into or serve the interests of existing groups. Rather, it was large enough and wealthy enough to establish a separate reality. 11
[HA: Cuba]*The Cubans prospered in Venezuela as well but followed a different pattern of dispersal, merging with Venezuelan society in Caracas, Valencia and Barquisimeto, establishing a formidable presence in industry, commerce and agriculture. Cubans merged with cultural and linguistic peers but were, and continue to be, more highly skilled than ordinary Venezuelans. 12
[KS: Nigeria]* More pro-democracy activists
left the country after the assassination of their colleagues. Most of them
settled in the United Kingdom while few moved to the United States. The
movement of leaders of the pro-democracy movement sometimes reflects where
they studied as students. In other cases, proximity to Nigeria was the
most important determinant. Geo-strategic considerations informed the
appointment of representatives of the pro-democracy in other countries.
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DEFINITION: communities whose members live informally outside a homeland while maintaining active contacts with it.
[GL/AA: Israel] * ...the relationship between Israeli emigrants and their American Jewish counterparts, who form 'potential' citizens derived from the 1950 Israeli Law of Return, in context of more general attitudinal patterns between Israeli and American Jews. 6
[GL/AA: Israel] *As a prominent Israeli demographer has posed, "The problem of 'Who is an Israeli' is no less, and probably quite more, complex than the issue of 'Who is a Jew'.(2) Reliable emigration data are not only impeded by this lack of a coherent definition, but are made more difficult by a general absence of data that democratic countries collect on'returns'. Furthermore, while someone who was born in Israel but now lives in the US is a clear cut case, a person who lived a significant portion of their life in Israel, but was born in another country is less obvious. Finally, it is also likely that a considerable number of U.S. residents who were born in Israel, are not Jewish, but Arabs.(3) Even if we accept the rough estimate of 10 to 15 percent of Israelis to be living abroad, the question of impact may be questionable for political analysts. 8
[HA: Cuba]*...two diaspora locations; the Cuban exile in Miami, Florida and the Cuban exile community in Venezuela. Based on archival work and interviews conducted by the author, this inventory is offered as an initial assessment in an on-going research project on the history of the Cuban diaspora. 1
Note: As used here, the distinction between dispersion and diaspora is not emphasized -- the focus is on Cubans living outside of Cuba rather than on interactions between them and their homeland -- although, of course, a great deal of information about these interactions is given in the paper. The paper also deals exclusively with Cubans whose departure started in 1959, ignoring any who may have left Cuba before Castro came to power.
[HA: Cuba]* the Cuban regime actively interfered in the Venezuelan struggle by sending arms, military advisors, and training Venezuelan guerrillas. 6
Note: Although Cuba clearly supported a "formal" diaspora consisting of personnel sponsored and funded by the regime, this paper does not include them in its analysis, and treats them, therefore, as outside the (informal) diaspora -- a distinction discussed above at DEFINITION
[KS: Nigeria]* The government in the late 1970s and 1980s sponsored thousands of students to study abroad. Many of whom have also stayed in their host countries. By the middle of the 1980s, the collapse of the oil economy in Nigeria was apparent. This is followed by a massive brain drain.
[Note: This text implies an all-Nigeria state-based diaspora. So long as they were financed by the Nigerian regime, they may be viewed as formal diasporans, but to the degree they became self-supporting or remained abroad as part of the "brain drain," they joined the informal diaspora.]
[KS: Nigeria]* In the third wave, ethno-nationalism is a prominent factor either by omission or commission. The winner of the June 1993 presidential elections is from the southwest. The leadership of the country who canceled the elections happens to be from the north. Although Abiola defeated his rival candidate from the north even in the candidate's constituency, ethno-national interpretation is given to the cancellation of the elections. There is no doubt that the pro-democracy movements have most support from the southwest. The response of the southeast and the north is not as strong as in the southwest. This is also reflected in the diaspora: most leaders of the movement are Yorubas from the southwest.
[Note: The pro-democracy movement is viewed as pan-Nigerian, but
regionalism gave may diasporans an ethno-national identity and priorities
even tough they also supported the pro-democracy movement.]
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DYNAMICS: factors that affect the behavior of diasporans.
[GH/AA: Israel] * During 1985 1991, the annual average number of returnees was 5,500; during 1992 - 1994, 10,5000 returnees; and 14,000 returned in 1993 and in 1994.(4) In great part, this return migration has been reinforced by an intensified official outreach policy toward expatriates, and a booming economy in Israel which has encouraged this increased return migration.(5) 18
[HA: Cuba]* The traditions of Cuban democracy and mutual aid were strengthened in Venezuela even as they eroded in Miami
Note: The US/Venezuelan comparison supports an explanation of the differences between the Cuban communities found in these two countries.
[KS: Nigeria] *
While a few of these organizations pre-date the cancellation of the
June 1993 elections, most were set-up spontaneously as a response to the
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EXTENSION: policies of homeland states or non-governmental organizations designed to influence, protect or punish their diaspora communities.
[GH/AA: Israel] * ... intensified drives of the Israeli government, in conjunction with Jewish organizations to attract young American Jews to Israel, as well as sponsoring immersion programs to tap into second-generation Israelis abroad. 9
[GH/AA: Israel] * According to Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion upon his presentation of the Law of Return and the Nationality Law to the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), "these laws reflect the central mission of our State, namely to fulfill the vision of the redemption of Israelby the ingathering of the exiles".(6) These Zionist goals were further institutionalized with the creation of a Minister of Immigration, and ideologically buttressed by references to Jewish immigrants as "Olim"(the ascending) and the stigma attached to emigrants as "Yordim" (the descending). 10
[GH/AA: Israel] * By the late 1970s, the then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin denounced this emigration, calling Israeli emigrants "the fallen among the weaklings",(7) and the Israeli government openly admitted that this large demographic loss was a matter of serious national concern. 11
[GH/AA: Israel] * ...at the heart of the political dispute are the issues of conversion, which currently exclude those of Conservative and Reform movements and restrict citizenship to conversions, marriages, divorces, funerals to the sole legitimacy and auspices of Orthodox rabbis. 23
[GH/AA: Israel] * ...the Israeli government has recently agreed to co-finance together with major Jewish donors from North America and the Council of Jewish Federations, a $300 million program, called "Birthright Israel" that would sponsor any Jew in the world, between the ages of 15-26 to visit Israel.(8) 27
[HA: Cuba]*Venezuelan foreign policy did not include direct, military interference in the consolidation of the Cuban revolutionary regime, whereas the Cuban regime actively interfered in the Venezuelan struggle by sending arms, military advisors, and training Venezuelan guerrillas. 6
[HA: Cuba]* Political antagonisms within the diaspora group need not carry over from homeland to hostland if the political context of reception and the historical relationships of diaspora population to the new hostland is positive. Tension in U.S./Cuban relations prior to 1959 continues to be "historical baggage" that is carried in Miami but is not present in Venezuela. 14
[HA: Cuba]* The Cubans in Venezuela were among friends and, moreover, they were vicariously able to witness and participate in the consolidation of democracy on Latin American terms. 6
[HA: Cuba]*In Miami, diasporans were being urged to assimilate and to "learn" or "earn" democracy the North American way. The U.S.-C.I.A. recruited, trained, paid and controlled invasionary parties of Cuban ex-patriots - the Bay of Pigs invasion being the prime example. 7
[HA: Cuba]*Ironically, anti-guerrilla military success in Venezuela did not result in inordinate Cuban exile involvement with the foreign policy agenda in Venezuela (though it did bring episodic influence), whereas military failure in the Miami diaspora was ultimately converted into a high degree of exile control of U.S. foreign policy related to Cuba. This involvement in foreign policy was coupled with active, right-wing repression of political expression in the Cuban enclave in Miami. 8
[KS: Nigeria]* ...business communities and the military junta in Nigeria are also actively courting governments, legislators, policy makers, churches, civil society activits and the Nigerian diaspora. They have worked to delegitmize the pro-democracy movements, minimize the situation in Nigeria and build a constituency for their cause. Lobby firms were contracted to lobby government officials in Western Europe and North America.
[KS: Nigeria]* The military junta has deliberately as a matter of state policy undermined the communication network in Nigeria to control access to telephone lines.
[KS: Nigeria]* The pro-democracy movement
in general is presented [by the junta and its supporters] as a
group of selfish Nigerians who are enjoying the luxury of Western Europe
and North America. They are said to be globe trotting and accused of being
out of touch with the realities in Nigeria. The military and its
associates argue that the money [diasporans] get from foundations
and donations from the public in the host countries drives pro-democracy
activists. According to them pro-democracy is a big business. In addition,
the constituency of the group is always questioned. It is often said that
the pro-democracy movement has very few members and supporters.
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EXTERNALITIES: factors outside of any diaspora that affect the attitudes and behavior of its members.
[GH/AA: Israel] * Israel's remarkable economic achievements in the global market have impacted significantly on emigration trends. 16
[GH/AA: Israel] * As a counterpart to this, the rate of Israeli 'returns' has increased both on a temporary basis (i.e., children on summer vacations) and more permanently, as the narrowing of economic disparities has occurred. Israeli government sources report that the number of Israelis returning home has increased substantially since 1992, the year that marked the election of the peace-oriented Labor party in Israel and a major economic recession in the United States. 17
[GH/AA: Israel] * When economic disparities narrow between the two 'homes', ideological and national factors related to the Israeli nation-state itself seem to attract Israelis to return, to stay, or to create transnational spaces. 18
[HA: Cuba]*What constitutes a pattern of dispersion in diasporas is a constructed reality. Elite application of different boundaries/frames changes the fundamental perception of diaspora groups in ways that affect their identity and incorporation profoundly. 14
[HA: Cuba]*Movement into a society with similar culture, language and social/political problems may facilitate acceptance in the hostland, particularly when the diaspora group has skills to offer and there are not legal prohibitions against their entry into the job market. 14
[KS: Nigeria]* Global geo-politics have differential impact on the three waves of political struggles in the diaspora. The anti-colonial struggle received significant support from the United States and the former Soviet Union, two of the global powers in the 1950s and 1960s. Being non-colonial powers in Africa, they championed the cause of decolonialization. There was a global consensus in support of independence and the right of self-determination.
[KS: Nigeria] * In the second wave, ... there was no major change in the global structure of power but the British and the Soviets were perceived to be supportive of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the United States and the French were perceived to be supportive of Biafra. It is also important to note that the principle of sovereignty was very strong at that time. Hence, most African countries with the exception of Tanzania and Cote D'Ivoire were supported of the central authorities in Nigeria.
[KS: Nigeria]* The nature of the global economy during the first and second waves are not dramatically different. Nigeria was during that period agricultural economy. Its significance in the international economy was in terms of export of raw materials. Oil has been discovered as early as 1958, and there is an argument that one of the reasons for the proclamation of Biafra is to control the new found oil riches in the southeast...
[KS: Nigeria]* ...at the time of the third wave, Nigeria [was] one of the largest exporters of oil. Its geo-strategic position is equally important being outside the Middle East. The government in the late 1970s and 1980s sponsored thousands of students to study abroad, many of whom have also stayed in their host countries. By the middle of the 1980s, the collapse of the oil economy in Nigeria was apparent. This is followed by a massive brain drain.
[KS: Nigeria]* Global changes in information technology have a profound differential impact on the effectiveness of the political struggles. During the first wave of the political struggle, what can be termed rudimentary information technology existed. Communication was very difficult. In the second, high level of technology had developed. The information machinery of Biafra was very effective. Clandestine radio stations were set-ups. Coverage of the events in Nigeria was widely available in the diaspora. However, this is not comparable to the advantages enjoyed by the third wave of political activists. The internet and web sites have been very effectively used. The Nigerian military junta in its campaigns, also, has to some extent taken advantage of the new found technology.
[KS: Nigeria]* The Nigerian pro-democracy
movement has put to good use the global media and Internet. The Delta
Force has been effectively used as campaign tool. In terms of the
internet, the Naijanet, is a forum used by pro-democracy activists to
disseminate information about Nigeria.
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GENESIS: how and when diasporas come into existence
[GH/AA: Israel] * ...the role of Israeli emigrants as a subset of a larger Jewish diaspora is rather problematic, since there seems to be little in common between the contemporary emigration of Israelis and the mass emigration of Jews to America at the turn of the century. The latter entailed the exodus of approximately two million impoverished, persecuted refugees from Eastern Europe, while the former, currently leave their country with professional skills and considerable financial resources, seemingly ready to surrender their status as members of the dominant majority in exchange for the status of hopeful immigrants.(9)
[HA: Cuba]*(Cuba) Waves of exodus have been churned up or extinguished by events in Cuba often directly related to hostile foreign policy actions or reactions of the U.S. government (The Bay of Pigs, The Missile Crisis, Camarioca boatlift, Mariel boatlift, etc.). 1
[HA: Cuba]*This model looks at people and their individual and small group circumstances, calculations and motives. The vintage approach analyses social types who planned to leave versus those who left abruptly; occupational or family patterns of leaving; groups who leave by more or less dangerous routes, etc. It is possible that various vintages may be included within a single wave and may cross waves. 3
[HA: Cuba]*Two eras and three generations can be described. Eras include those who were born and raised in Cuba in the pre-revolutionary period (with most arriving in the diaspora between 1959-1979); those born and raised in Cuba during the post-revolutionary period (arriving in the diaspora since 1980). The formative political, cultural and social experience and orientation of the two eras are distinct, stemming primarily from the differences in political regime that framed their experience, access to material goods, life opportunities and values. Generations include those who reached adulthood in Cuba, those leaving while still below the age of majority and those born outside Cuba. Each community contains members of the various eras and generations. 3
Note:Another important distinction can be made between diasporans who have lived in their homeland and those who have not. The former are migrants who have left home, but the latter include persons who have never lived in their homelands, even though they may have visited it. For the most part, these are descendants of migrants who retain ties with their homeland, but it may include persons who for any reason identify with a land they have only dreamed or heard about. An example might be Jews in diaspora who identify with Israel. This distinction is important enough to justify a terminological distinction between endo-diasporans who have left their homeland, and ecto-diasporans who have never lived there. Ecto- can mean outside of, and is preferable to exo- which often means former and could, therefore, be ambiguous. An important distinction exists in the Jewish dispersion between members of Israel's endo-diasporan and ecto-diasporan communities. However, this situation is unusual with few parallels in other diasporas.
[HA: Cuba]* . Within the group arriving in the U.S. between 1959 and 1975, there have been over 200,000 deaths in exile (Rumbaut 1999). The proportion of one modal population to another is shifting and the opinions of those born in diaspora become an important focus of attention for predicting future scenarios. 2
[KS: Nigeria]* Diasporic Nigerian
communities could characterize the current struggle for democracy and
human rights as the third wave of `political' struggles. The first wave
was the participation of Nigerian students in the diaspora in the
Pan-African Movement and the struggle for decolonization. Some of the
prominent nationalist leaders such as the late Chief Awolowo and Dr.
Azikiwe were activists in the diaspora. They eventually returned to
Nigeria to lead the struggle for decolonization. The second wave of the
`political' struggle was during the attempt by the Igbo population in the
southeast of the country to secede. They proclaimed the Republic of Biafra
in 1967. It led to a civil war with disastrous consequences on both sides
but especially for Biafrans. Many Igbos fled the country and found safe
refuge outside the country, and especially in the United States. The Igbo
population was able to mobilize international opinion in support of their
cause. The movement by and large died with the surrender of Biafra in
1970. However, there are remnants of Biafra.
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GEOGRAPHY: the location of hostlands where diasporans live.
[GH/AA: Israel] * Compared to the 32 percent of Israel's world Jews in 1995, the 5.7 million Jews in the United States made up 44 percent of the Jewish people... Only two other countries (France and Russia) have communities larger than a half million, and an additional four (Argentina, Canada, Ukraine, and United Kingdom) have Jewish communities between a quarter million and a half million people. 4
[HA: Cuba]*Although Venezuela is the largest Cuban diaspora community outside of the U.S., its total population is over thirty times smaller than that in the U.S. (1.6 million of Cuban descent in the U.S. and approximately 600,000 in Miami vs a maximum of 50,000 in all of Venezuela)..., the small numerical size of the Cuban community in Venezuela does not reflect its relative importance within the diaspora. On several counts, the Venezuelan community has significance disproportionate to its size. 5
[HA: Cuba]* . With the fall of Perez Jimenez in 1958, Caracas became the epicenter of Cuban guerrilla communication - the well known radio station Indio Azul transmitted the Message of Radio Rebelde to Cuba. Hence the Cuban arrivals after 1959 were following a long tradition of mutual aid. 5
[HA: Cuba]*The historical relationship between Cuba and South Florida is no less extensive but far more ambivalent. ... in the war for independence ... Cuban sovereignity was usurped by the Platt Amendment, limited by U.S. support for dictators and alternating tolerance and rejection of Cuban revolutionaries in U.S. exile. The Miami diaspora is, therefore, living in a hostland but simultaneously undertaking reconquest. 5
[KS: Nigeria]* These [diasporan
political] efforts were hatched during meetings in Senegal, South
Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
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HOMELAND : location of the jurisdiction or area that diasporans view as their homeland
[HA: Cuba]*Note: Since all Cubans migrated from a state, no questions involving ethnonational identity arise in this paper. However, ideological and socio-cultural factors ranging from professionals to criminals, and ardent communists to anti-communists are consid$ AFFECT and SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS.
[Note: although the paper focuses on Nigerians in diaspora, it contains references to anti-Nigerian ethno-nationalists, especially from the Southeast.]
[KS: Nigeria]* The second wave of the `political' struggle was during the attempt by the Igbo population in the southeast of the country to secede. They proclaimed the Republic of Biafra in 1967. It led to a civil war with disastrous consequences on both sides but especially for Biafrans. Many Igbos fled the country and found safe refuge outside the country, and especially in the United States. The Igbo population was able to mobilize international opinion in support of their cause. The movement by and large died with the surrender of Biafra in 1970.
[KS: Nigeria]* Many adherents of Biafra
would rather be called Biafrans instead of Nigerians. The rise and demise
of Biafra has influenced the third phase of the political struggles in the
diaspora and at home.
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IDENTITY: the grounds for interaction between diasporans and their homeland
[GH/AA: Israel] * While more than a third of the world's Jews live in Israel, the boundaries of Israel's political system are often difficult to identify because the spiritual and material influence of Jews who are not Israelis is often felt. 5
[GH/AA: Israel] * ...the numbers of Jews in the U.S. in 1990 totaled approximately 5.5 million, plus or minus the 590.000 who claimed to either have another or no religion. Among the American Jewish diaspora, there has been a dramatic increase in the intermarriage rate over the past two-and-a-half decades; from 9% in 1965 to 52% in 1990.(11) Findings have also indicated a strong tendency of children of intermarriages not to be raised as Jews, to marry outside of the religion, and to abandon Judaism within one generation.(12) 8-9
[GH/AA: Israel] * The major arena of conflict, though rarely expressed explicitly, is in the field of personal and national identity. Of those who described themselves as Jews by religion in the United States, 80 percent expressed a denominational preference for the Conservative and Reform synagogue movements, while only some 6 percent identified themselves as strictly religious, Orthodox Jews.(13) In Israel, secular Israelis consider themselves Jewish regardless of their alienation from any form of Orthodoxy. 20-21
[HA: Cuba]* When the talks produced a Cuban/U.S. agreement to permit return visits by exiles and the exit of political prisoners, the conservative/reactionary sectors of the Miami community once again felt betrayed and divisions along ideological lines deepened within the community. Furthermore, upon arrival in Miami, the new diasporans were shunned or ignored by many Miami groups. Traditions of mutual aid were withdrawn or curtailed. 9
[KS: Nigeria]* ...Nigerians in the diaspora form branches of political parties, and also political parties court the diasporic community for their support. Similarly, Nigerians in the diaspora have always organized on the basis of radical political movements and ethno-national cultural and political organizations... Proximate cause of the third wave of political activism is the cancellation of the 1993 presidential elections. In June 1993, the military junta of General Babangida cancelled the results of the presidential elections, which was won by the late M. K. O. Abiola j
[KS: Nigeria]* ... material support for the
home country organizations is [also] very important. This has
become critical partially due to... the collapse of the Nigerian economy
in the late 1980s and 1990s. Hitherto, the middle class ran most
organizations from their income. However, the crisis wiped out the middle
class in Nigeria. The impoverishment of the middle class is part of the
military's policy to make them so poor that they will be preoccupied with
the struggles for daily livelihood. Furthermore, the impoverishment of the
middle class makes them susceptible to be bribed by the military, which
has access to a lot of wealth.
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INITIATIVES: the source of stimuli that induce diasporans to act.g> [GH/AA: Israel] * ...mass immigration of Jews to Israel has been actively encouraged policy. Between 1948 and 1951, Israel admitted 666,000 Jewish immigrants, mostly from Mediterranean countries and survivors of the Holocaust from Europe, who joined a base population of only 600,000. Since 1989, almost 780,000 immigrants have arrived in Israel, mostly from the former USSR. Thus, Israel's demographic structure today mainly consists of first or second-generation immigrants.(14) 10
[HA: Cuba]*In Venezuela, the government of President Luis Herrera Campins (COPEI - 1979-1983) agreed to accept former political prisoners and their families following negotiation with Fidel Castro by members of the diaspora community in Venezuela, Miami, and Spain. In Miami, these negotiations were conducted in secret ... and resulted in a violent reaction when announced. "Dialogueros" (dialoguers - those exiles who eventually went to Cuba to meet with Castro in 1978) were threatened, bombed and even killed by right-wing elements who opposed all return or negotiation with Castro in power. 8-9
[KS: Nigeria]* One of the major undertakings of the winner of the election [the late M. K. O. Abiola] was to tour various countries and mobilize governments, agencies of civil society and Nigerians in his support. He was accepted widely by many Nigerians in the diaspora as the authentic winner of the elections. Also, he was warmly received by many governments. On his return to Nigeria, there was a military coup led by the late General Sani Abacha in November 1993. [Abiola] was subsequently detained in 1994 after proclaiming his presidency. His detention was a watershed in the struggle for democracy.
[KS: Nigeria]* ...no less than thirty human
rights and pro-democracy activists from Nigeria have visited Canada from
1995 to 1998. Wole Soyinka, perhaps more than any one else, has committed
so much energy and time traveling throughout the world. He has spent more
time in airplanes, airports and hotels than at his residence. Owens Wiwa,
the brother of Ken Saro Wiwa and Hafsat Abiola, the daughter of M. K. O.
Abiola and the slain Kudirat Abiola, became the moral voices of their
murdered relations. These people and others including Julius Ihonvbere and
Kayode Fayemi attended conferences, meetings and workshops on Nigeria or
of important meetings of international organizations. Specifically
targeted meetings are that of the Commonwealth, the European Union, the
United Nations Human Commission, the Organization of the African Unity and
the African Human Rights Commission.... Many of these people also appeared
before parliamentary foreign policy committees to testify about the
situation in Nigeria.
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INTENSITY: the relative degree to which diasporans identify with their homelands and their hostlands or with other salient issues
[GH/AA: Israel] * Finally, these trends explain both the rise of return immigration to Israel, as well as the emergence of a "transnational" Israeli community, who maintain social, cultural, economic and political links to both home and host countries. Indeed, a number of factors make the movement of Israelis to the United States fit the general description of a "transnational"group.(15) These include education level, occupational and cultural skills that are useful in both countries, and access to networks that provide a broad range of services.(16) In addition, Israelis are more likely to become naturalized (as has been evidenced above), and are among a select few groups to be allowed to have dual citizenship.(17) 17
[HA: Cuba]*... the religious leaders in Caracas participated in and sanctioned diasporan community participation in the Pope's 1997 visit to Cuba. [By contrast] the community leaders in Miami, including religious leaders, could not bring themselves to endorse diaspora participation in the Pope's visit. 11
[KS: Nigeria]* The climax of the pro-democracy activities was the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 of his Ogoni colleagues in the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People. This event led to worldwide condemnation of the military junta and suspension of the country from the Commonwealth in 1995. The judicial-murder of Ken Saro Wiwa energized the pro-democracy activists.
[Other activists, however] describe themselves as environmental,
social justice and minority rights movements. Pro-democracy is sometimes
used pejoratively to connote politicians interested in power. While this
social construction of difference is important, and it has an impact on
the activities of the Nigerian diasporic community, it is sometimes exaggerated.
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INTERVENTION: efforts by diasporan organizations to influence the policies of host states, international bodies or other agencies as they affect conditions in their homelands.
[GH/AA: Israel] Note: the paper does not discuss any efforts by members of the Israeli diaspora to influence hostland policies toward their homeland, but it does consider their role in its domestic politics.
[GH/AA: Israel] * Respondents were also asked if US Jews should publicly support Israel even if they do not agree with Israel's policies; 65 percent of Israelis said yes compared with 40 percent of Americans. 23
[GH/AA: Israel] * With the sole exception of official Israeli envoys serving in missions abroad, and members of the Israeli merchant marine, citizens abroad are prohibited from participating in the elections because Israeli law does not provide for absentee ballots, and voting takes place only on Israeli soil. 27
[HA: Cuba]*military failure in the Miami diaspora was ultimately converted into a high degree of exile control of U.S. foreign policy related to Cuba. This involvement in foreign policy was coupled with active, right-wing repression of political expression in the Cuban enclave in Miami. Hence, manipulation of U.S. foreign policy has been an instrumental objective for control in Miami while diaspora involvement in Venezuela has stemmed from identification as Latin Americans, the ease of cultural immersion in a sister country and adoption of party-based political beliefs embedded in the particulars of Venezuela's democracy. 8
[HA: Cuba]*The Cubans in Venezuela were among friends and, moreover, they were vicariously able to witness and participate in the consolidation of democracy on Latin American terms. 6
[KS: Nigeria]* Pro-democracy activists have lobbied for imposition of sanctions against Nigeria. This strategy has been more successful at local and state levels than national levels.
[KS: Nigeria]* One of the major information
initiative of the pro-democracy movements, is the launching of radio
stations in Nigeria and internationally. Internationally, Radio Kudirat
Nigeria broadcasts to Nigeria in English the lingua franca, the three
major languages of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, Pidgin English, and other
minority languages. RKN has helped to disseminate information that is out
of control of the military junta.
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LOCALIZATION: the extent to which diasporans live near each other, or scattered.
[GH/AA: Israel] * Ehrlich and Lahis were concerned only with yeridah (emigration) to the United States, since it was clear that that country was the major destination for yordim. The Lahis Report, published in 1980, reported between 300,000 and 500,000 yordim in the United States (with the majority of them in New York and Los Angeles).
[HA: Cuba]*... the image of the entire Cuban diaspora (about 15% of all Cubans live in diaspora) has frequently been represented by the Miami community - which is by far the largest diaspora location for Cubans containing just over 50% of all persons of Cuban origin in the United States in 1997. In turn, Miami has been characterized as a politically reactionary, right wing monolith.
[Shettima mentions geographic dispersal of Nigerians in different
countries, but does not talk about their localization within any
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SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS: the occupations and family background of diasporans.
[GH/AA: Israel] * ...the loss to
Israel of many citizens (most of whom were young and skilled) was bound to
have disturbing implications for the demography, economy, morale and
defense of the country.(18) 11-12
[GA/AA: Israel] * Table 1: Total Number of Foreigners Altering their Status in the United States from Category A (government official) and Category H (temporary workers and trainees) Visas to Permanent Residents, 1982-1985. 13
Source: Statistical Yearbook of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1982-85; see Friedberg and Kfir.
[GH/AA: Israel] * The numbers of Israeli academics and professionals who had settled abroad ('the brain drain') posed an important concern for Israeli policy-makers. They included senior scientists, medical personnel, engineers, technicians, and computer specialists who sought abroad professional advancement and increased earnings, not to mention Israeli students who, after studying abroad and graduating found greater rewards abroad.(19) 13
[HA: Cuba]* The fact that early arrivals were wealthy and had some of their wealth available for local investment, together with Cuban preferences for bankrolling their own local businessses and industries was combined with the willingness of Cuban women to work and the availablility of U.S. social welfare benefits to produce a prosperous enclave which eventually dominated local government and civil society. 12
[KS: Nigeria]* Most of the activists in the
pro-democracy movements are not professional politicians. They are
Nigerian students, former students and other professionals living in the
diaspora. Intellectuals play a leading role in this movement. Perhaps this
is due to the nature of their profession and the flexibility of their
schedules. It was after the formation of the National Democratic Coalition
in 1994 and the subsequent harassment of its activists by the military
junta that some opposition politicians joined the ranks of the activists
in the diaspora.
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SOLIDARITY: the extent to which members of a diaspora form organizations to advance their interests.
[GH/AA: Israel] * How American Jews relate to Israeli immigrants is complex. While American Jews have a notorious record of supporting the Israeli state, they have long viewed Israelis coming to settle in the United States with ambivalence. While most American Jews have chosen not to participate personally in the 'ingathering of the exiles', they have seen themselves playing a vital role by contributing money and insuring political support for the Israeli state. The converse role of Israelis, in this view, was to inhabit and develop the country and defend it. Leaving the Jewish state, therefore has been perceived as negatively to American Jews as to the Israeli state--a betrayal to the "unspoken compact between American and Israeli Jews."(20) 18-19
[HA: Cuba]*. Those who are illegally in Miami face the problem of finding work without having proper documents. Overall, the sheer size of the Miami community, the presence of non-profit refugee agencies for resettlement (under contract to the U.S. government) and INS bureaucracy foster reduced involvement by the earlier waves of the diaspora community except when relatives are involved. Newer arrivals, however, have been active in helping each other. 13
[HA: Cuba]* In Miami political tensions grew as ex-political prisoners created a new generation of moderate community leaders that have challenged the reigning reactionary policy. Despite their advances, the social stigma attached to Mariel remains. 10-11
[HA: Cuba]*In Venezuela the arrival of the ex-prisoners was seen as a victory and a welcome addition. The social reality of Mariel arrivals is a source of continuing debate. Each generation of the diaspora looks at the other and wonders if the other is "damaged." But, in Venezuela the diaspora community reached across this divide whereas in Miami they withdrew. 10
[HA: Cuba]*During the 1994 raft crisis, it was not uncommon to see someone who had arrived last month offering to sponsor a neighbor who arrived today. Patterns of helping seem to be arranged within eras rather than across them. This is not the case in Venezuela. Help is extended across generations and waves of Cubans, with less political conflict within the community overall. At least one key leader in Venezuela commented on this cooperative spirit in relation to the size of the Venezuelan community saying, "We get along because we have to. If there were more of us, we would have our disagreements like they do in Miami." 13
[KS: Nigeria]* There are no less than 100 [Nigerian] pro-democracy movements in the United States, 5 in Canada, and 50 in the United Kingdom. While a few of these organizations pre-date the cancellation of the June 1993 elections, most were set-up spontaneously as a response to the crisis. Those that pre-date the June crisis started as radical social justice organizations. Politics, in the sense of partisan politics, was not on their agenda. Most of the pro-democracy movements also started as independent organizations without any link with the pro-democracy movements in Nigeria. Some, however, started as a branch of pro-democracy and human rights movements in Nigeria.
[KS: Nigeria]* Further efforts have been
made to form one umbrella organization. This led to the convening of the
World Congress of Free Nigerians in Washington and a subsequent one in
London. These efforts did not materialize into a single association.
Indeed, a third congress planned in Canada did not hold. Instead, a joint
organization of NADECO-Abroad and the UDFN was formed as a Joint Action
Committee for Nigeria. It should be noted that despite these efforts to
form umbrella organizations, there are many Nigerian pro-democracy
organizations that are not part of any of the major formations.
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TEMPORALITY: variations in the duration of residence abroad.
[GH/AA: Israel] * By early 1990s, several demographic trends were in evidence: a continuing stream of Israeli immigrants to the US, a rise in the number of Israelis returning to Israel to live, and the emergence of a new category of "transnationals"--individuals with footholds in both the United States and Israel. In the social and political sphere, Israeli émigrés showed evidence of growing self-acceptance along with signs of identification (albeit distinction) with American Jewish communal life. 14
[HA: Cuba]* Two eras and three generations can be described. Eras include those who were born and raised in Cuba in the pre-revolutionary period (with most arriving in the diaspora between 1959-1979); those born and raised in Cuba during the post-revolutionary period (arriving in the diaspora since 1980). The formative political, cultural and social experience and orientation of the two eras are distinct, stemming primarily from the differences in political regime that framed their experience, access to material goods, life opportunities and values. Generations include those who reached adulthood in Cuba, those leaving while still below the age of majority and those born outside Cuba. Each community contains members of the various eras and generations. 3
[HA: Cuba]*...after forty years, the relative size of each wave has been altered by the number of deaths in exile. Within the group arriving in the U.S. between 1959 and 1975, there have been over 200,000 deaths in exile (Rumbaut 1999). The proportion of one modal population to another is shifting and the opinions of those born in diaspora become an important focus of attention for predicting future scenarios. 2
[KS: Nigeria]* The government in the late
1970s and 1980s sponsored thousands of students to study abroad. Many of
them have stayed in their host countries. By the middle of the 1980s, the
collapse of the oil economy in Nigeria was apparent. This was followed by
a massive brain drain.
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Prepared by Fred W. Riggs but open to revision and contributions from anyone doing research on diasporas in a global context. His mailto response form is given at the end of this document. Please also send comments to quoted authors:
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For discussion see: Diasporas and Globalization paper for ISA panel, 2000, Los Angeles || Diasporas and Area Studies
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Updated: 18 April 2000 -- note #3 expanded 23 December 2000