Global Sociology

Third edition

by Robin Cohen and Paul Kennedy

Interview with Robin Cohen on diaspora

Read pages 39-40 of your textbook for a brief introduction to the term 'diaspora' and a handy Key Concept box which defines it. There is also a very useful section on pages 386-7 which discusses diaspora in terms of constructing transnational lives and a thought-provoking Pause to Reflect question for you to consider. Diaspora and diasporas are touched on in many other places throughout the textbook (you might like to look at p.108 where Chinese diaspora are discussed in the context of global poverty, p.261 where the idea that media is created and sent to diasporic groups living overseas crops up, and p.239 which touches on the role of social networking sites in mobilising diaspora abroad in relation to the Arab Spring) but Robin discusses the concept in much more depth in the video interview below.

Topics covered include:
  • the etymology of diaspora
  • various interpretations of the concept of diaspora
  • dispersion
  • group identity
  • diaspora as opposed to migration
  • reductionist and elaborated definitions of diaspora
  • home and homeland (see also pages 226-7 of your textbook, which
  • include a discussion of homeland in relation to early Europeans
  • migrating to the Americas in the 19th and early 20th centuries)
  • how diaspora makes us think differently about identity and place
  • practical applications of the work undertaken on diaspora in terms of its effects on government policy
  • the differences between social realism and social constructionism (see p.166 for a Key Concept box on social constructionism, as well as a discussion of how it relates to ethnicity)
  • the future of diaspora studies (including how diasporas have become mobilised, the explosion of work in the humanities on the subject of diaspora including diaspora theatre and art)