Diaspora and Colonialization

In their review of the meanings of “diaspora” as geographers use the term, Rios and Adiv note that “the term has its Western beginnings in the Jewish diaspora communities, extending to groups “such as the Armenian, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Kurdish, Palestinian, Parsi, and Sikh, whose experiences of expatriation, institution building, cultural continuity, and refusal to relinquish their collective identities have demarcated them from mere immigrants”. The term has come to mean a group of people that migrated or were expelled from their historic homeland out into different parts of the world. As described in a glossary developed by PBS as part of its Ralph Bunche documentary and educational project,“colonialism (and imperialism) refer to a system whereby more powerful and industrialized nations control, by force or other means, weaker regions for the benefit of the dominant power.” These definitions are interesting on two levels. First, they help lay out some of the ways in which the application of power by one group over another is a deeply rooted part of the system by which racial/ethnic identities and systems of advantage and disadvantage linked to those created identities are formed and maintained. Second, these terms are interesting for what they don’t say, as well as what they do – e.g. failing to name Western European white culture as complicit both historically and now. Resources in this section delve further into both the historical and current implications of diaspora and colonialization.

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