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The New African Diaspora

Edited by Isidore Okpewho and Nkiru Nzegwu

Publication Year: 2009

The New York Times reports that since 1990 more Africans have voluntarily relocated to the United States and Canada than had been forcibly brought here before the slave trade ended in 1807. The key reason for these migrations has been the collapse of social, political, economic, and educational structures in their home countries, which has driven Africans to seek security and self-realization in the West. This lively and timely collection of essays takes a look at the new immigrant experience. It traces the immigrants' progress from expatriation to arrival and covers the successes as well as problems they have encountered as they establish their lives in a new country. The contributors, most immigrants themselves, use their firsthand experiences to add clarity, honesty, and sensitivity to their discussions of the new African diaspora.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. v-vii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix

This volume of essays has emerged from a symposium held on April 7–8, 2006, by the Department of Africana Studies at Binghamton University. The meeting marked the tenth anniversary of a conference, held by the department in April 1996, which gave rise to a volume titled The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities, ...

Part One. Overviews

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pp. 1

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1. Introduction: Can We “Go Home Again”?

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pp. 3-30

I am using, as my point of reference here, the forced migration of Africans to the Americas that took place—in Vincent Thompson’s reckoning (Making of the African Diaspora 78, 82)—from about the middle of the fifteenth century to about the middle of the nineteenth ad (though the Arab trade in Africans had started much earlier than this). ...

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2. Diaspora Dialogues: Engagements between Africa and Its Diasporas

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pp. 31-58

In an essay such as this, it is tempting to start by asking some basic questions, to clear the theoretical underbrush, as it were. What does the term “diaspora” mean? What is the African diaspora? Who qualifies to be considered part of the African diaspora? How have African diasporas been formed and changed over time? ...

Part Two. Leaving Home

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pp. 59

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3. Togo on My Mind

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pp. 61-77

In 1960, Togo gained independence from colonial France. In 1963 its first president, Sylvanus Olympio, was assassinated and replaced by Nicolas Grunitzky, a former prime minister from the colonial era. In 1967, Sergeant Etienne Eyad

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4. “I, Too, Want to Be a Big Man”: The Making of a Haitian “Boat People”

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pp. 78-108

During the early 1960s, Haiti began losing a substantial portion of its population through migration. At that time, the country was reeling under a brutal, authoritarian regime headed by Dr. Fran

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5. Africa’s Migration Brain Drain: Factors Contributing to the Mass Emigration of Africa’s Elite to the West

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pp. 109-124

It was before, during, and after World War II that the “brain drain” phenomenon began receiving significant attention internationally, when highly educated individuals in Europe were emigrating to North America and other rich nations to flee the war there. Since then, the brain drain has impacted all other parts of the world, ...

Part Three. Relocation and Redefinition

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pp. 125

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6. “The West Is Cold”: Experiences of Ghanaian Performers in England and the United States

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pp. 127-145

In Ghana, one of the forest’s most appreciated bounties is palm wine, a beverage whose source is the oil palm tree. Oil palms are legendary workhorses that retire after years of active production of palm kernels by leaning over to bear a “nutritionally” intoxicating beverage from their trunks. ...

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7. Migration and Bereavement: How Ghanaian Migrants Cope in the United Kingdom

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pp. 146-163

Within the Ghanaian community in the UK, communal bonding, shared grief, and ceremonies of burial have been crucial in helping the bereaved to cope with the trauma of death. The strength of these social networks and the psychological impact they have may be explained by the specific nature of the new migrations ...

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8. Acculturation and the Health of Black Immigrants in the United States

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pp. 164-182

The health of immigrant populations in the United States is best characterized as an epidemiological enigma that is influenced by a range of factors including migration selectivity, nativity, cultural protective attributes, linguistic proficiency, and health care access. ...

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9. Socio-Legal Barriers to the Full Citizenship of Recent African Immigrants in Canada: Some Preliminary Thoughts

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pp. 183-195

The central thesis that is developed in this chapter is that notwithstanding the understandable and sometimes justified claims that are often made to the effect that we now live in a “multicultural Canada,”1 some important aspects of Canada’s immigration-related policies and practices (and other relevant and related regimes) ...

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10. The Effects of Immigration and Refugee Policies on Africans in the United States: From the Civil Rights Movement to the War on Terrorism

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pp. 196-214

People from Africa and people of African descent have been coming to the United States for hundreds of years. Some of the migrations have been voluntary while others have been involuntary or forced. While we often think of the historic African diaspora as those individuals who are the descendents of the four million slaves emancipated in 1865, ...

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11. Immigrants and the American System of Justice: Perspectives of African and Caribbean Blacks

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pp. 215-235

Public sentiments and opinions about crime, the criminal justice system, and the punishment of offenders are as varied as the American public. Americans’ reactions to and perceptions about the justice system in general are shaped by several factors. ...

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12. Africans Abroad: Comparative Perspectives on America’s Postcolonial West Africans

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pp. 236-254

In the past thirty years, the United States (America) has witnessed a surge in immigration unseen since the turn of the last century. The Census Bureau has reported that the foreign-born population (documented and undocumented) has been growing rapidly, from 9.6 million people in 1970 to 14.1 million by 1980. ...

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13. Questions of Identity among African Immigrants in America

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pp. 255-270

Immigrating to the U.S. from Tanzania at a very young age and landing in middle America was devastating to a young girl who spoke with an African accent and was the only African for miles. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and the group I was supposed to gravitate toward was the one that rejected me the most. ...

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14. Resisting “Race”: Organizing African Transnational Identities in the United States

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pp. 271-300

Increasing transnational migration and immigration of black ethnic groups to the United States is changing the notions of race, ethnicity, and nationality and the ways in which people fundamentally understand themselves in U.S. society as well as relations with their home countries (Rogers 2000; Waters 1999). ...

Part Four. A Measure of Success

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pp. 301

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15. Immigration and African Diaspora Women Artists

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pp. 303-332

The literature on women, art, and immigration is thin. Hardly any literature exists on the impact of immigration on women artists in the African Diaspora world. This is not to say that no books have been written on African American women artists, or on a mixed selection of African and Caribbean women artists ...

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16. Emerging Communities: The Religious Life of New African Immigrants in the United States

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pp. 333-346

This chapter describes some of the findings of our ongoing study of African immigrant religious communities in urban America. We initiated this project several years ago with the central purpose of examining the role of African- led faith communities in the United States, ...

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17. The Orisha Rescue Mission

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pp. 347-357

Let me begin with an interchange I had with Isidore Okpewho about the relevance of my research to the symposium giving rise to this book. Reacting to the description which states (inter alia), “the symposium will give us the opportunity to reflect on the migration of 3rd World black peoples ...

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18. Redefining “Africa” in the Diaspora with New Media Technologies: The Making of AfricaResource.com

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pp. 358-384

Although African immigrant experiences have been widely documented in numerous formats—writing, video, and audio narratives—little has been done with new media technology. Two basic questions of interest are: How is this technology being used to tell the stories of immigrants? ...

Part Five. Transnational Perspectives

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pp. 385

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19. African Video, Film Cinema, and Cultural Repackaging in the Diaspora

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pp. 387-400

The globalization of communications and culture at the end of the cold war in the late twentieth century has had at least three unintended effects on African diaspora populations worldwide. Firstly, the rapid diffusion of new and improved communications technology—such as Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) systems, ...

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20. Excess Luggage: Nigerian Films and the World of Immigrants

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pp. 401-422

In the spring of 2005, a number of African films were featured in a traveling series in different parts of the United States, mostly in university towns. One of these films was Agogo Eewo (The Sacred Gong), a political allegory by the Nigerian filmmaker Tunde Kelani, which was released in 2002.1 ...

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21. From the New Diaspora and the Continent: African American Return Figurations

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pp. 423-441

African writers who have resided in the diaspora have been faced with the challenge of writing about their nations from the distance of the Atlantic, and some of these writers have also engaged the diaspora, creating images and characters drawn from old diaspora representations often relating to “return to the motherland” motifs. ...

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22. Self, Place, and Identity in Two Generations of West African Immigrant Women Memoirs: Emecheta’s Head above Water and Danquah’s Willow Weep for Me

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pp. 442-458

Given the history of land alienation, geographic and social space has enormous significance for black peoples. Slaves were violently uprooted and transplanted into alien spaces, and colonized Africans were forced to yield power over their lands to foreigners. ...

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23. Language, Memory, and the Transnational: Art of Wosene Worke Kosrof

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pp. 459-475

The first volume, The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities, focused largely on the diaspora as a historical view back to the transatlantic slave trade. The current volume illustrates that it is becoming increasingly necessary in this globalized era to differentiate between the African diaspora of the slave trade ...

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24. Out beyond Our Borders: Literary Travelers of the TransDiaspora

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pp. 476-482

Consider the trickster Kwaku Ananse of Akan orature, the spider who was a man, the man who was a spider, spinning stories in a web that spans the globe. From his African embarkation he has traveled the diaspora in the voices of black people, changing names and shapes and languages as he accompanies their migrations ...

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25. The Guyana Diaspora and Homeland Conflict Resolution

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pp. 483-499

The Guyana diaspora can best be viewed as a subset of the Caribbean diaspora overseas, although it demonstrates some peculiar features. It is part of the reverse migration trend from the colonies to the metropolitan centers in Europe and North America, which had its main beginnings in the twentieth century ...

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26. The Ontological Imperative for the New African Diaspora

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pp. 500-518

My basic move in this essay is to join the debate, among old and new Africans in the diaspora, on the ontological project of the new African diaspora. The ontological project is best described as how each people imagines the world both in discourse and in practice. ...


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pp. 519-522


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pp. 523-531

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003362
E-ISBN-10: 0253003369
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253353375

Page Count: 544
Illustrations: 18 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2009