Michael L. Miller: Comparative Diasporas
(Comparative Diasporas)

Coined todescribe the Jewish dispersion in the ancient Near East,the Greek term "diaspora" has traditionally referred to thehistorical exile and displacement of the Jewish people. The term was subsequently applied to theGreek and Armenian dispersions, which – together with the Jewish dispersion –are often called the "classical diasporas." In recent decades, however, the meaning of"diaspora" has been expanded to refer to migrant, refugee and émigrépopulations that have left their places of origin – either forcibly orvoluntarily – and come to constitute a group defined primarily in relation toits historic "homeland." Wenow hear of African, Indian, Sikh, Chinese, Korean, South Asian, Irish,Turkish, Alevi, Kurdish, Ukrainian, Russian, Tibetan, Palestinian, Croatian,Serbian, Albanian, Bulgarian, Haitian, and even Israeli diasporas. This course will begin with an exploration ofthe Jewish diaspora, asking to what extent this archetypical diaspora serves asa useful analytical category and framework for understanding the migrations anddisplacements of modern times. Thecourse will examine certain diasporic models – e.g., trading diasporas, victimdiasporas, cultural diasporas – with the aim of understanding the role theyplay in nation-building and group-formation, as well as the impact they have onidentity politics and foreign policy "at home" and"abroad." In addition to theindividual diasporas and themes treated in the readings, students will giveclass presentations exploring additional diasporic communities and/ortheoretical issues related to the field of Diaspora Studies. These presentation may serve as the basis forthe required term paper.