[URBANTH-L]CFP: Interrogating Diaspora (EASA Conference, Bristol)

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Fri Mar 3 16:11:38 EST 2006

Interrogating Diaspora

Call for papers for a workshop at the EASA-Conference, Bristol, 
18th-21st September 2006

Convenors: Martin Sökefeld (University of Bern) & Erik Olsson 
(University of Linköping)

The concept of Diaspora has become very popular within the social and 
cultural sciences in recent times. The proliferation of the diaspora 
concept, as it has been shaped in contemporary research, has been marked 
by its separation from paradigmatic cases of "old diasporas" like those 
of Jews and Armenians. The "new" focus is rather on the questioning of 
essentialised boundaries of communities, cultures and nations. In the 
fields of ethnicity, migration and postcolonial studies, "diaspora" has 
been acclaimed as a concept that facilitates the accommodation of 
hybridity, movement, permeability of borders and the fluidity of 
identification. The initial euphoria of "diaspora" seems to have given 
way to certain reservations, however. It has been argued that, contrary 
to theoretical intentions, the concept has served to essentialise 
communities by attaching them to particular places of origin, and that 
the meaning of diaspora has been stretched to such an extent that it has 
lost much of its analytical power by largely equating diaspora with 
migrant communities.

Against the background of such criticism, the intention of this workshop 
is to interrogate the empirical and theoretical usefulness of the 
diaspora concept and the specific empirical questions it raises. Three 
main issues will be in focus. The first refers to the general conceptual 
question of how to conceptualise diaspora in a way that shuns 
essentialism and avoids equating it solely with migrant communities, but 
at the same time secures its analytical and comparative value. The 
second issue refers to questions that arise once we abstain from 
essentialising diaspora. We need to ask why and how diaspora communities 
are formed and how people are mobilized for diaspora. Why are people 
attracted to ideas of diaspora? How are different diasporas maintained 
and inter-generationally reproduced? How are diasporas transformed in 
the process of reproduction? A third issue of interest refers to the 
transnationality that is claimed to be a central feature in diasporic 
contexts. What does such transnationality signify, and how does it 
manifest itself in diasporic practices?

We cordially invite the submission of 1-page abstracts for theoretically 
focused and empirically well-grounded presentations (20 minutes + 10 
minutes discussion) that address these particular questions. Please send 
your abstract by end of April, 2006, to: 
martin.soekefeld at anthro.unibe.ch
erik.olsson at isv.liu.se

For more information on the conference see:

Prof. Dr. Martin Sökefeld
Institut für Sozialanthropologie
Universität Bern
Länggassstrasse 49a
CH-3000 Bern 9

Tel. +41(0)31-6318963


More information about the URBANTH-L mailing list