A diaspora is a scattered population whose origin lies in a separate
geographic locale.  In particular,
Diaspora has come to refer to
involuntary mass dispersions of a population from its indigenous
territories, most notably the expulsion of Jews from
Judea and the
Greeks after the fall of Constantinople. Other examples are
the African Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the southern Chinese or
Indians during the coolie trade, the Irish during and after the Irish
Famine, the Palestinian diaspora, the exile and deportation of
Circassians, and the emigration of
Anglo-Saxon warriors and their
families after the Norman Conquest of England, many of whom found
Constantinople and bolstered the elite bodyguard of the
Recently, scholars have distinguished between different kinds of
diaspora, based on its causes such as imperialism, trade or labor
migrations, or by the kind of social coherence within the diaspora
community and its ties to the ancestral lands. Some diaspora
communities maintain strong political ties with their homeland. Other
qualities that may be typical of many diasporas are thoughts of
return, relationships with other communities in the diaspora, and lack
of full integration into the host country.
1 Origins and development of the term
1.1 Expanding definition
2 African diaspora
3 Asian diasporas
4 European diasporas
5 Internal diasporas
6 Twentieth century
World War II
World War II and the end of colonial rule
Cold War and the formation of post-colonial states
7 21st century
Middle East conflicts
7.2 Venezuela's Bolivarian diaspora
Diaspora populations on the Internet
9 In popular culture
10 See also
13 Further reading
14 External links
Origins and development of the term
The term is derived from the Greek verb διασπείρω
(diaspeirō), "I scatter", "I spread about" and that from διά
(dia), "between, through, across" and the verb σπείρω (speirō),
"I sow, I scatter". In
Ancient Greece the term διασπορά
(diaspora) hence meant "scattering" and was inter alia used to
refer to citizens of a dominant city-state who emigrated to a
conquered land with the purpose of colonization, to assimilate the
territory into the empire. An example of a diaspora from classical
antiquity is the century-long exile of the Messenians under Spartan
rule and the Ageanites as described by Thucydides in his "history of
the Peloponnesian wars."
Its use began to develop from this original sense when the Hebrew
Bible was translated into Greek; the first mention of a diaspora
created as a result of exile is found in the Septuagint, first in
Deuteronomy 28:25, in the phrase ἔσῃ ἐν διασπορᾷ
ἐν πάσαις ταῖς βασιλείαις τῆς γῆς,
esē en diaspora en pasais tais basileiais tēs gēs, translated to
mean "thou shalt be a dispersion in all kingdoms of the earth"
and secondly in
Psalms 146(147).2, in the phrase οἰκοδομῶν
Ἰερουσαλὴμ ὁ Kύριος καὶ τὰς
διασπορὰς τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ ἐπισυνάξει,
oikodomōn Ierousalēm ho
Kyrios kai tas diasporas tou Israēl
episynaxē, translated to mean "The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: he
gathereth together the outcasts of Israel".
So after the Bible's translation into Greek, the word diaspora would
then have been used to refer to the Northern Kingdom exiled between
740–722 BC from
Israel by the Assyrians, as well as Jews,
Benjaminites, and Levites exiled from the Southern Kingdom in 587 BCE
by the Babylonians, and from
Roman Judea in 70 CE by the Roman
Empire. It subsequently came to be used to refer to the historical
movements of the dispersed ethnic population of Israel, to the
cultural development of that population or to that population
itself. In English when capitalized and without modifiers (that is
simply, the Diaspora), the term refers specifically to the Jewish
diaspora; when uncapitalized the word diaspora may be used to refer
to refugee or immigrant populations of other origins or ethnicities
living "away from an established or ancestral homeland". The wider
application of diaspora evolved from the Assyrian two-way mass
deportation policy of conquered populations to deny future territorial
claims on their part.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary Online, the first known
recorded usage of the word diaspora in the
English language was in
1876 referring "extensive diaspora work (as it is termed) of
evangelizing among the National Protestant Churches on the
continent". The term became more widely assimilated into English
by the mid 1950s, with long-term expatriates in significant numbers
from other particular countries or regions also being referred to as a
diaspora. An academic field, diaspora studies, has
become established relating to this sense of the word.
In all cases, the term diaspora carries a sense of displacement the
population so described finds itself for whatever reason separated
from its national territory, and usually its people have a hope, or at
least a desire, to return to their homeland at some point, if the
"homeland" still exists in any meaningful sense. Some writers[who?]
have noted that diaspora may result in a loss of nostalgia for a
single home as people "re-root" in a series of meaningful
displacements. In this sense, individuals may have multiple homes
throughout their diaspora, with different reasons for maintaining some
form of attachment to each. Diasporic cultural development often
assumes a different course from that of the population in the original
place of settlement. Over time, remotely separated communities tend to
vary in culture, traditions, language and other factors. The last
vestiges of cultural affiliation in a diaspora is often found in
community resistance to language change and in maintenance of
traditional religious practice.
William Safran in an article published in 1991, set out six rules
to distinguish diasporas from migrant communities. These included
criteria that the group maintains a myth or collective memory of their
homeland; they regard their ancestral homeland as their true home, to
which they will eventually return; being committed to the restoration
or maintenance of that homeland; and they relate "personally or
vicariously" to the homeland to a point where it shapes their
identity. While Safran's definitions were influenced by
the idea of the Jewish diaspora, he recognised the expanding use of
Rogers Brubaker (2005) also notes that use of the term diaspora has
been widening. He suggests that one element of this expansion in use
"involves the application of the term diaspora to an ever-broadening
set of cases: essentially to any and every nameable population
category that is to some extent dispersed in space". Brubaker has
WorldCat database to show that 17 out of the 18 books on
diaspora published between 1900 and 1910 were on the Jewish diaspora.
The majority of works in the 1960s were also about the Jewish
diaspora, but in 2002 only two out of 20 books sampled (out of a total
of 253) were about the Jewish case, with a total of eight different
Brubaker outlines the original use of the term diaspora as follows:
Most early discussions of diaspora were firmly rooted in a conceptual
'homeland'; they were concerned with a paradigmatic case, or a small
number of core cases. The paradigmatic case was, of course, the Jewish
diaspora; some dictionary definitions of diaspora, until recently, did
not simply illustrate but defined the word with reference to that
Brubaker argues that the initial expansion of the use of the phrase
extended it to other, similar cases, such as the Armenian and Greek
diasporas. More recently, it has been applied to emigrant groups that
continue their involvement in their homeland from overseas, such as
the category of long-distance nationalists identified by Benedict
Anderson. Brubaker notes that (as examples): Albanians, Basques, Hindu
Indians, Irish, Japanese, Kashmiri, Koreans, Kurds, Palestinians, and
Tamils have been conceptualised as diasporas in this sense.
Furthermore, "labour migrants who maintain (to some degree) emotional
and social ties with a homeland" have also been described as
In further cases of the use of the term, "the reference to the
conceptual homeland – to the 'classical' diasporas – has become
more attenuated still, to the point of being lost altogether". Here,
Brubaker cites "transethnic and transborder linguistic
categories...such as Francophone, Anglophone and Lusophone
'communities'", along with Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Confucian, Huguenot,
Muslim and Catholic 'diasporas'. Brubaker notes that, as of
2005[update], there were also academic books or articles on the Dixie,
white, liberal, gay, queer and digital diasporas.
Some observers have labeled evacuation from
New Orleans and the Gulf
Coast in the wake of
Hurricane Katrina the
New Orleans diaspora, since
a significant number of evacuees have not been able to return, yet
maintain aspirations to do so. Agnieszka Weinar (2010) notes
the widening use of the term, arguing that recently, "a growing body
of literature succeeded in reformulating the definition, framing
diaspora as almost any population on the move and no longer referring
to the specific context of their existence". It has even been
noted that as charismatic Christianity becomes increasingly
globalized, many Christians conceive of themselves as a diaspora, and
form an imaginary that mimics salient features of ethnic
Professional communities of individuals no longer in their homeland
can also be considered diaspora. For example, science diasporas are
communities of scientists who conduct their research away from their
homeland. In an article published in 1996, Khachig Tölölyan
argues that the media have used the term corporate diaspora in a
rather arbitrary and inaccurate fashion, for example as applied to
“mid-level, mid-career executives who have been forced to find new
places at a time of corporate upheaval” (10) The use of corporate
diaspora reflects the increasing popularity of the diaspora notion to
describe a wide range of phenomena related to contemporary migration,
displacement and transnational mobility. While corporate diaspora
seems to avoid or contradict connotations of violence, coercion and
unnatural uprooting historically associated to the notion of diaspora,
its scholarly use may heuristically describe the ways in which
corporations function alongside diasporas. In this way, corporate
diaspora might foreground the racial histories of diasporic formations
without losing sight of the cultural logic of late capitalism in which
corporations orchestrate the transnational circulation of people,
images, ideologies and capital.
Further information: African diaspora
One of the largest diaspora of modern times is that of Sub-Saharan
Africans, which dates back several centuries. During the Atlantic
slave trade, 9.4 to 12 million people from
West Africa survived
transportation to arrive in the
Americas as slaves. This
population and their descendants were major influences on the culture
of British, French, Portuguese, and Spanish
New World colonies. Prior
to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, millions of Africans had moved and
settled as merchants, seamen and slaves in different parts of Europe
and Asia. From the 8th through the 19th centuries, an Arab-controlled
slave trade dispersed millions of Africans to
Asia and the islands of
the Indian Ocean.
Europe and the African Diaspora, Alexander Weheliye writes a
section and clearly explains diaspora this way: "
pathways that retrace laverings of difference in the aftermath of
colonialism and slavery, as well as the effects of other forms of
migration and displacement. Thus, diaspora enables the desedimentation
of the nation from the ‘interior’ by taking into account the
groups that fail to comply with the reigning definition of the people
as a cohesive political subject due to sharing one culture, one race,
one language, one religion, and so on, and from the 'exterior' by
drawing attention to the movements that cannot be contained by the
nation’s administrative and ideological borders".
Currently, migrant Africans can only enter 13 African countries
without advanced visas. In pursuing a unified future, the African
Union (AU) will allow people to move freely between the 54 countries
of the AU under a visa free passport and encourage migrants to return
Bukharan Jews in Samarkand, Central Asia, c. 1910
The earliest known Asian diaspora of note is the Jewish diaspora, the
majority of which can be attributed to the Roman conquest, expulsion,
and enslavement of the Jewish population of Judea, and whose
descendants became the Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Mizrahim of
today. Similarly, the
Romani trace their origins to the Indian subcontinent, and their
Europe is first attested to in the Middle Ages.
Chinese emigration (also known as the Chinese Diaspora; see also
Overseas Chinese) first occurred thousands of years ago. The mass
emigration that occurred from the 19th century to 1949 was caused
mainly by wars and starvation in mainland China, as well as political
corruption. Most immigrants were illiterate or poorly educated
peasants and coolies (Chinese: 苦力, literally "hard labor"), who
immigrated to developing countries in need of labor, such as the
Americas, Australia, South Africa, Southeast Asia, Malaya and other
The largest Asian diaspora outside of Southeast
Asia is the Indian
diaspora. The overseas Indian community, estimated at over 25 million,
is spread across many regions in the world, on every continent. It
constitutes a diverse, heterogeneous and eclectic global community
representing different regions, languages, cultures, and faiths (see
At least three waves of Nepalese diaspora can be identified. The
earliest wave dates back to hundreds of years as early marriage and
high birthrates propelled Hindu settlement eastward across Nepal, then
Sikkim and Bhutan. A backlash developed in the 1980s as Bhutan's
political elites realized that Bhutanese Buddhists were at risk of
becoming a minority in their own country. At least 60,000 ethnic
Bhutan have been resettled in the United States. A
second wave was driven by British recruitment of mercenary soldiers
beginning around 1815 and resettlement after retirement in the British
Isles and southeast Asia. The third wave began in the 1970s as land
shortages intensified and the pool of educated labor greatly exceeded
job openings in Nepal. Job-related emigration created Nepalese
enclaves in India, the wealthier countries of the Middle East, Europe
and North America. Current estimates of the number of Nepalese living
Nepal range well up into the millions.
In Siam, regional power struggles among several kingdoms in the region
led to a large diaspora of ethnic Lao between the 1700s–1800s by
Siamese rulers to settle large areas of the Siamese kingdom's
northeast region, where Lao ethnicity is still a major factor in 2012.
During this period, Siam decimated the Lao capital, capturing,
torturing and killing the Lao king Anuwongse.
Further information: European diaspora
Greek Homeland and
Diaspora 6th century BCE
European history contains numerous diaspora-like events. In ancient
times, the trading and colonising activities of the Greek tribes from
Asia Minor spread people of Greek culture, religion
and language around the
Black Sea basins,
establishing Greek city-states in
Magna Graecia (Sicily, southern
Italy), northern Libya, eastern Spain, the south of France, and the
Black Sea coasts.
Greeks founded more than 400 colonies. Tyre and
Carthage also colonised the Mediterranean.
Alexander the Great's conquest of the
Achaemenid Empire marked the
beginning of the Hellenistic period, characterized by a new wave of
Greek colonization in
Asia and Africa, with Greek ruling-classes
established in Egypt, southwest
Asia and northwest India.
Subsequent waves of colonization and migration during the Middle Ages
added to the older settlements, or created new ones, thus replenishing
Greek diaspora and making it one of the most long-standing and
widespread in the world.
The Migration-Period relocations, which included several phases, are
just one set of many in history. The first phase Migration-Period
displacement (between CE 300 and 500) included relocation of the Goths
Ostrogoths and Visigoths), Vandals, Franks, various other Germanic
peoples (Burgundians, Lombards, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Suebi,
Alemanni, Varangians and Normans),
Alans and numerous Slavic tribes.
The second phase, between CE 500 and 900, saw Slavic, Turkic, and
other tribes on the move, resettling in Eastern
Europe and gradually
leaving it predominantly Slavic, and affecting
Anatolia and the
Caucasus as the first Turkic tribes (Avars, Huns, Khazars, Pechenegs),
as well as Bulgars, and possibly
Magyars arrived. The last phase of
the migrations saw the coming of the Hungarian Magyars. The Viking
expansion out of
Scandinavia into southern and eastern Europe, Iceland
and Greenland.The recent application of the word "diaspora" to the
Viking lexicon highlights their cultural profile distinct from their
predatory reputation in the regions they settled, especially in the
North Atlantic. The more positive connotations associated with the
social science term helping to view the movement of the Scandinavian
peoples in the Viking Age in a new way.
Such colonizing migrations cannot be considered indefinitely as
diasporas; over very long periods, eventually the migrants assimilate
into the settled area so completely that it becomes their new mental
homeland. Thus the modern
Hungary do not feel that they
belong in the Western
Siberia that the Hungarian
Magyars left 12
centuries ago; and the English descendants of the Angles,
Jutes do not yearn to reoccupy the plains of Northwest Germany.
In 1492 a Spanish-financed expedition headed by Christopher Columbus
arrived in the Americas, after which European exploration and
colonization rapidly expanded. Historian
James Axtell estimates that
240,000 people left
Europe for the
Americas in the 16th century.
Emigration continued. In the 19th century alone over 50 million
Europeans migrated to North and South America. Other Europeans
moved to Siberia, Africa, and Australasia.
A specific 19th-century example is the Irish diaspora, beginning in
the mid-19th century and brought about by An Gorta Mór or "the Great
Hunger" of the Irish Famine. An estimated 45% to 85% of Ireland's
population emigrated to areas including Britain, the
United States of
America, Canada, Argentina,
Australia and New Zealand. The size of the
Irish diaspora is demonstrated by the number of people around the
world who claim Irish ancestry; some sources put the figure at 80 to
From the 1860s the Circassian people, originally from Eastern Europe,
were dispersed through Anatolia, Australia, the Balkans, the Levant,
North America and West Europe, leaving less than 10% of their
population in the homeland - parts of historical Circassia (in the
modern-day Russian portion of the Caucasus).
In the United States, approximately 4.3 million people moved outside
their home states in 2010, according to IRS tax exemption data. In
a 2011 TEDx presentation, Detroit native Garlin Gilchrist referenced
the formation of distinct "Detroit diaspora" communities in Seattle
and Washington, D.C., while layoffs in the auto industry also led
to substantial blue-collar migration from Michigan to Wyoming in the
mid 2000s. In response to a statewide exodus of talent, the State
of Michigan continues to host "MichAGAIN" career recruiting events in
places throughout the
United States with significant Michigan diaspora
In Mainland China, millions of migrant workers have sought greater
opportunity in the country's booming coastal metropolises, though this
trend has slowed with the further development of China's interior.
Migrant social structures in these Chinese megacities are often based
on place of origin, such as a shared hometown or province, and it is
common for recruiters and foremen to select entire work crews from the
same village. In two separate June 2011 incidents, Sichuanese
migrant workers organized violent protests against alleged police
misconduct and migrant labor abuse near the southern manufacturing hub
The twentieth century saw huge population movements. Some involved
large-scale transfers of people by government action. Some migrations
occurred to avoid conflict and warfare. Other diasporas were created
as a consequence of political decisions, such as the end of
World War II
World War II and the end of colonial rule
World War II
World War II unfolded, Nazi Germany deported and killed millions of
Jews and many millions of others were likewise enslaved or murdered,
including Ukrainians, Russians and other Slavs. Some Jews fled from
persecution to unoccupied parts of western
Europe and the Americas
before borders closed. Later, other eastern European refugees moved
west, away from Soviet annexation, and the
Iron Curtain regimes
after World War II. Hundreds of thousands of these anti-Soviet
political refugees and Displaced Persons ended up in western Europe,
Australia, Canada and the
United States of America.
After World War II, the
Soviet Union and Communist-controlled Poland,
Yugoslavia expelled millions of ethnic
Germans, most of whom were descendants of immigrants who had settled
in those areas nearly two centuries before. This was allegedly in
retaliation for the German Nazi invasion and their pan-German attempts
at annexation. Most of the refugees moved to the West, including
western Europe, and with tens of thousands seeking refuge in the
Spain sent many political activists into exile during Franco's
military regime from 1936 to his death in 1975.
Following World War II, the creation of the state of Israel, and a
series of uprisings against colonialist rule, the
Middle East nations
became more hostile in relation to their historic Jewish populations,
sepharadim and mizrahiml, of nearly 1 million people. Most of them
emigrated, with the majority resettling in Israel.
At the same time, the
Palestinian diaspora resulted from Israel's
creation in 1948, in which 750,000 people were expelled or fled from
their homes. The diaspora was enlarged by the effects of the 1967
Arab–Israeli War. Many Palestinians continue to live in refugee
camps maintained by Middle Eastern nations, but others have resettled
Middle East and other countries.
The 1947 Partition resulted in the migration of millions of people
India and Pakistan. Millions were murdered in the religious
violence of the period, with estimates of fatalities up to 2 million
people. Thousands of former subjects of the
British Raj went to the UK
Indian subcontinent after
independent in 1947.
From the late 19th century, and formally from 1910, Japan made Korea a
colony. Millions of Chinese fled to western provinces not occupied by
Japan (that is, in particular Ssuchuan/Szechwan and Yunnan in the
Southwest and Shensi and Kansu in the Northwest) and to Southeast
Asia. More than 100,000 Koreans moved across the Amur River into
Russia (then the Soviet Union) away from the
Cold War and the formation of post-colonial states
During and after the Cold War-era, huge populations of refugees
migrated from conflict, especially from then-developing countries.
Upheaval in the
Middle East and Central Asia, some of which was
related to power struggles between the
United States and the Soviet
Union, created new refugee populations which developed into global
In Southeast Asia, many
Vietnamese people emigrated to
later millions to the United States,
Australia and Canada after the
Cold War-related Vietnam War. Later, 30,000 French colons from
Cambodia were displaced after being expelled by the
Khmer Rouge regime
under Pol Pot. A small, predominantly Muslim ethnic
group, the Cham people long residing in Cambodia, were nearly
eradicated. The mass exodus of
Vietnamese people from
Vietnam coined the term 'Boat people'.
In Southwest China, many
Tibetan people emigrated to India, following
14th Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama in 1959 after the failure of his Tibetan uprising.
This wave lasted until the 1960s, and another wave followed when Tibet
was opened up to trade and tourism in the 1980s. It is estimated that
about 200,000 Tibetans live now dispersed worldwide, half of whom in
Nepal and Bhutan. In lieu of lost citizenship papers, the
Central Tibetan Administration
Central Tibetan Administration offers Green Book identity documents to
Sri Lankan Tamils
Sri Lankan Tamils have historically migrated to find work, notably
during the British colonial period. Since the beginning of the civil
war in 1983, more than 800,000
Tamils have been displaced within Sri
Lanka as local diaspora, and over a half million
Tamils living as the
Tamil diaspora in destinations such as India, Australia, New Zealand,
Canada, the UK and Europe.
The Afghan diaspora resulted from the 1979 invasion by the former
Soviet Union; both official and unofficial records
indicate that the war displaced over 6 million people, resulting in
the creation of the largest refugee population worldwide
Many Iranians fled the 1979
Iranian Revolution which culminated in the
fall of the USA/British-ensconced Shah.
In Africa, a new series of diasporas formed following the end of
colonial rule. In some cases as countries became independent, numerous
minority descendants of Europeans emigrated; others stayed in the
lands which had been family homes for generations.
80,000 South Asians in 1972 and took over their businesses and
properties. The 1990s Civil war in
Rwanda between rival ethnic groups
Tutsi turned deadly and produced a mass efflux of refugees.
In Latin America, following the 1959
Cuban Revolution and the
introduction of communism, over a million people have left Cuba.
There was a
Jamaican diaspora around the start of the 21st century.
More than 1 million Dominicans live abroad a majority living in the
US."Nearly 20 Percent of All Dominicans Live Abroad". Dominican Today.
Archived from the original on 8 December 2012
A million Colombian refugees have left
Colombia since 1965 to escape
the country's violence and civil wars. In South America, thousands of
Argentinan, Chilean and Uruguayan refugees fled to
periods of military rule in the 1970s and 1980s. In Central America,
Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans fled conflict and
poor economic conditions.
Hundreds of thousands of people fled from the
Rwandan Genocide in 1994
into neighboring countries. Thousands of refugees from deteriorating
Zimbabwe have gone to South Africa. The long war in
Congo, in which numerous nations have been involved, has also created
millions of refugees.
The South Korean diaspora during the 1990s caused the fertility rate
to drop when a large amount of the middle class emigrated, as the rest
of the population continued to age. To counteract the change in these
demographics, the South Korean government initiated a diaspora
engagement policy in 1997. 
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April
Middle East conflicts
Following the Iraq War, nearly 3 million Iraqis had been
displaced as of 2011, with 1.3 million within Iraq and 1.6
million in neighboring countries, mainly Jordan and Syria. The
Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War has forced further migration, with at least 4 million
displaced as per UN estimates.
Venezuela's Bolivarian diaspora
Main article: Bolivarian diaspora
Following the presidency of
Hugo Chávez and the establishment of his
Bolivarian Revolution, over 1.6 million Venezuelans emigrated from
Venezuela in what has been called the Bolivarian diaspora.
The analysis of a study by the
Central University of Venezuela
Central University of Venezuela titled
Venezuelan Community Abroad. A New Method of Exile by El Universal
states that the
Bolivarian diaspora in Venezuela has been caused by
the "deterioration of both the economy and the social fabric, rampant
crime, uncertainty and lack of hope for a change in leadership in the
Diaspora populations on the Internet
There are numerous web-based news portals and forum sites dedicated to
specific diaspora communities, often organized on the basis of an
origin characteristic and a current location characteristic. The
location-based networking features of mobile applications such as
WeChat have also created de facto online diaspora communities
when used outside of their home markets. Now, large companies from
the emerging countries are looking at leveraging diaspora communities
to enter the more mature market.
In popular culture
Gran Torino, a 2008 drama starring Clint Eastwood, was the first
mainstream American film to feature the
Hmong American diaspora.
List of diasporas
Long Walk of the Navajo
1948 Palestinian exodus
Trail of Tears
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