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Stephane Dufoix

Publication Year: 2008

Coined in the third century B.C., the term diaspora has evolved into a buzzword used to describe the migrations of groups as diverse as ethnic populations, religious communities, and even engineers working abroad. This concise book provides a critical introduction to the concept of diaspora, bringing a fresh, synthetic perspective to virtually all aspects of this topic. Stéphane Dufoix incorporates a wealth of case studies—about the Jewish, Armenian, African, Chinese, Greek, and Indian experiences— to illustrate key concepts, give a clear overview on current thinking, and reassess the value of the term for us today.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-x

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Foreword by Roger Waldinger

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pp. xi-xviii

Diaspora—as both concept and social practice—is in vogue. One doesn’t have to look far for evidence of interest in this idea. We can begin in the academic world, starting with the interdisciplinary journal called Diaspora (in publication since 1991) and continuing on to the librarian’s favorite tool, the World...

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Preface to the American Edition

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pp. xix-23

The French edition of this book was published in 2003 as part of the well-known encyclopedic collection Que sais-je? Launched by Paul Angoulvent in 1941, the collection publishes general, popular works on specific subjects, and Les Diasporas bears its hallmarks. When the book came out in 2003, it had very few footnotes, and its main pur-...

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pp. 1-3

A simple word . . . “diaspora.” For a long time, it referred only to physically scattered religious groups (peoples, churches, or congregations) living as minorities among other people and other faiths. Then, starting in the 1970s, this ancient word underwent an amazing inflation that peaked in the 1990s...

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Chapter 1. What Is a Diaspora?

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pp. 4-34

“Diaspora” is a Greek word, derived from the verb diaspeiro, which was used as early as the fifth century b.c. by Sophocles, Herodotus, and Thucydides. The modern usage of “diaspora” stems from its appearance as a neologism in the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek by the legendary seventy Jewish...

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Chapter 2. The Spaces of Dispersion

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pp. 35-58

A consideration of dispersion involves being able to name a common point of departure for it. People can’t be dispersed without first having been together. But who is dispersed? What dispersed population( s) are we talking about? Writes historian William...

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Chapter 3. Maintaining Connections:Holding On and Letting Go

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pp. 59-79

Any attempt to describe the collective relationship to space and time involves suggesting answers to several intertwined questions: What are the social frameworks through which relationships to a community’s underpinnings are changed and reshaped? What “makes” a community? Is distance...

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Chapter 4. Managing Distance

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pp. 80-105

Being far from one’s native land and feeling nostalgic for it are ancient themes. They are found among poets and writers and are widely shared by those who have left to go abroad. Being far from home is often a rupture, and for the last two centuries state authorities and those living far from...

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pp. 106-108

In its contemporary usage, “diaspora” is perfectly suited to the modern world. Relieved of its heavy burden of misery, persecution, and punishment, the word nicely fits the changes in the relationship to distance, in view of the quasi disappearance of time in its relationship to space. The technological...


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pp. 109-124


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pp. 125-136

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About the Author, Production Notes

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pp. 137-161

Stéphane Dufoix is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Paris X–Nanterre. He is a member of the Sophiapol (Political sociology, philosophy, and anthropology, Paris-X) and of the Centre d’histoire sociale du XXe siècle, the...

E-ISBN-13: 9780520941298
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520253605

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2008