- In This Issue
Dobie points out that although one in every four French citizens born in the overseas departments of the Caribbean resides in mainland France, scholarship on French multiculturalism in literature and film has emphasized the presence of Maghrebian immigrants. She attributes much of the marked deficit of texts and films by or about Antilleans living in the metropole to the fact that Antillean artists have drawn inspiration from the unique topography, history, and culture of their native islands rather than from migration and urban multiculturalism. Dobie also considers other factors contributing to the relative cultural invisibility of Antilleans in the metropole, such as the centralizing French political philosophy that emphasizes the cultural homogeneity of the nation and resists, whenever possible, acknowledgment of internal ethnic diversity. In the second part of her essay, Dobie considers some exceptions to these patterns of neglect and examines representations of Antilleans living in the metropole. In these she sees Antillean migrants framed either as members of an invisible, subterranean community or as paired with characters (usually West or North Africans) whose identity is more strongly marked. This juxtaposition has the double effect of rendering Antillean identity less palpable while magnifying the cultural difference of the "immigrants." Dobie then argues that the inhibitions attending the representation of Antilleans in mainland France reflect not only French resistance to the idea of ethnic diversity but also a corresponding Antillean diasporic tendency to "insularize" identity by insisting on its geographic roots. This shared emphasis on the geospatial bounds of culture reflects the conceptual terrain of francophonie in its successive incarnations as a French government program and as an intellectual and institutional framework. Where postcolonial theory has often emphasized hybridity and the diversifying effects of immigration and globalization, Dobie argues, francophonie has regarded French as the connector between starkly different cultures, generating writing that either emphasizes the influence of the prestigious metropolitan tradition or, by contrast, valorizes the authentic stamp of other cultural traditions.
Chen enriches the account of traditional Chinese life that diaspora studies usually offer by challenging the latter's focus on [End Page 143] major Chinatowns and its tendency to depict large-scale movements on a national and even global canvas. Chen begins by concentrating on one small community of diasporic Chinese in Peterborough, Ontario. He offers a detailed historical account of settlement, describing changes in economic and educational patterns across the generations and in the shape of mobile lives, with alternating residence in the homeland and in Canada. He demonstrates the importance of lineage and kinship as networks that distribute both information and opportunity and of the role of small ethnic businesses, such as restaurants and laundries, as platforms to launch economic lives that extend eventually to the professions. His article demonstrates that an intense initial focus on the localized diasporic community is not constraining for the study of diasporic transnationalism but is, rather, an indispensable platform for the to-and-fro investigation of the local and the global, a movement that constructs diasporas and should anchor the study of diasporas.
Ma Mung asks what commitments and processes transform the geographic dispersion of a social entity into a "spatial resource." His study of the Chinese diaspora indicates that several closely interrelated processes are factors in this transformation. These processes are marked by the special relationship the diaspora maintains with the homeland territory and by its effort to conceive of the diaspora—a scattered entity—as a single unit. The special relationship relies upon the fabrication of a genealogical continuity by creating a history/memory that is unique to the diaspora. A second process, Ma Mung argues, seeks to transform genealogical continuity into geographic contiguity. Lastly, a third process focuses on how the relationship to the homeland territory, which is usually defined as a space circumscribed by the ongoing presence of a population, is supplemented by a new feeling of extraterritoriality. After describing these processes, Ma Mung also offers an account of the ways in which spatial resources are mobilized within the Chinese diaspora.
Lee examines the ways in which ethnic newspapers both reflect and constitute Korean diasporic identity as it emerges in constant negotiation between the originary culture, which is itself changing, and the...