Global Diasporas

An Introduction

Robin Cohen

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  • Published: 1997
  • Subject Listing: Jewish Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 241 pp.
  • Territorial rights: North American rights only
  • Series: Global Diasporas
  • Contents

What is a diaspora? For the Greeks, from whose language the word originated, diaspora meant the dispersal of population through colonization. For Jews, Africans, Armenians, and others, the word acquired a more sinister and brutal meaning. Diaspora meant a collective trauma, a banishment into exile, and a heart-aching longing to return home. During the early modern period, trade and labor diasporas girded the mercantilist and early capitalist worlds. Today the term has changed again, often implying a positive and ongoing relationship between migrants' homelands and their places of work and settlement.

In this perceptive and arresting analysis, Robin Cohen illuminates the changing meanings of diaspora and the contemporary diasporic condition. This volume serves to introduce a major new series, Global Diasporas, which will prove essentail for students of race, ethnicity, nationalism, and comparative politics.
Robin Cohen is professor of sociology at the University of Warwick.

"Considering that Global Diasporas covers a huge range of subjects, it is truly masterful. It has been put into a coherent theoretical scheme, it is backed by a lot of impressive scholarship, and it is clearly, even elegantly written."
- Daniel Chirot, University of Washington
List of Tables
1) Classical notions of diaspora - transcending the Jewish tradition
2) Victim diasporas - Africans and Armenians
3) Labour and imperial diasporas - Indians and British
4) Trade diasporas - Chinese and Lebonese
5) Diasporas and their homelands - Sikhs and Zionists
6) Cultural diasporas - the Caribbean case
7) Diasporas in the age of globalization
8) Conclusion - diasporas, their types and their future

"Reading the book, I thought, 'Cohen is doing for diaspora what Weber did for religion'. . . . [This] is an ambitious attempt to theorize the displacement of people . . . and the social circumstances they create for themselves as they maintain a connection with their (real or imagined) homelands and among their co-ethnics."
-Fran Markowitz, American Anthropologist, June 1999