Diasporas by James Clifford – Shivangi Bhardwaj

Clifford, James. “Diasporas.” Cultural anthropology 9.3 (1994): 302-338.


James Clifford in his work Diaspora brings to light the way the term has been used and how it has evolved over time and how it is placed in society now. He begins with the Jewish idea of the term and how it is used in context with Polish, Chinese and African context now. The term is more than geographical and merges with history and despite the continuous heterogeneity if these diasporic experiences the common thread of ambivalence runs through. The experience differs but the sense of homelessness, the rootedness in the home country and the alienation from and for the host country. He talks about how border and histories merge and the difference is very thin between what was felt in medieval ages and in contemporary times, even though the idea of exile hardly exists in current times. There are times when two communities associate with each other when they share the same diasporic geography. Their histories might differ but their experience merges. He brings in Said and Bhabha to create a diasporic identity that runs through the world and that identity is based on fragmented history, memories and a need for identity. And in the case of English Diaspora he draws from Rushdie who points out the fact that the British history was a diasporic construction, something made entirely outside their geography, hence a certain ambivalence seeps in towards both the host country and their homeland. This paper helps in constructing and understanding diasporic identities in the research that will be undertaken. This paper does not look at Indian diaspora and looks at medieval and contemporary diaspora missing out on the one that took place in the modern times.


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