This article challenges models of diaspora that predominately use categories-based frameworks to show heterogeneity within diasporas. The critique is that these models do not consider the diverse political activity of its members and that, by defining communities based on factors such as religion, region, and language divisions, they eventually render diasporic identities rigid and fixed within these parameters. While we recognize the need to understand categorical differences within a community, the major limitation of this approach is that it imposes a homogeneous understanding of diasporic subjects. Using the Indo-Canadian diaspora as a case study, this article shows that the political activity of diasporic subjects are complex, revealing a heterogeneous identity that cannot be determined by categorical assumptions. We document the varying political actions that emerge as a community acts or reacts to such incidents as India’s State of Emergency, and in Canada, to the procedural after-effects of the Air India bombing followed by the Air India Inquiry. We also attend to the economic and political influence the Indian diaspora has exercised through organized lobby groups within and between Canada and India. This case study shows that political action within the Indo-Canadian diaspora is determined by simultaneous consideration of its home-state and host-state identities and that mobilization around the political concerns of diasporic subjects cannot always be determined by their role within religious or linguistic commonalities.


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pp. 149-171
Launched on MUSE
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