Diaspora Clifford Diasporas Summary

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Migration Through the Lens of Diasporas

The Jewish diaspora of the 8th century BCE was the first of its kind, but the term which would grow increasingly difficult to define and apply as time went on. In his essay, “Diasporas,” James Clifford attempts to elucidate the history and development of the term ‘diaspora’ and critically look at its implications. Defining the term diaspora, a task which seems simple, turns out to be the biggest obstacle to overcome in studying them, and that is what Clifford spends most of his essay doing. Clifford also looks at the kinds of cultural changes diasporas can bring about, particularly regarding feminism. Through the lens of diasporas, Clifford’s article allows for a greater understanding of migration, political or otherwise, and the effects that come with it.

Defining Diaspora: That which constitutes a diaspora has been faced with
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Safran points out that with his new definition, it is possible to identify seven more diasporas: the Armenian, Maghrebi, Turkish, Palestinian, Cuban, Greek and Chinese. This is a step in the direction of inclusivity, but there is one caveat that Clifford points out: Safran sees these “new” diasporas as somehow inferior to the Jewish diaspora, which he holds as the ‘ideal type’ of diaspora, if such a thing could truly exist. Associating an event with a single race of people begins the process of comparison with a great danger. Clearly Safran’s intent in sculpting a new definition such as he does was to allow for the comparison of multiple cultures and their diasporas, but by qualifying his definition with this idea of an ‘ideal’ diaspora makes comparison problematic because instead of cross-cultural comparison, the comparison becomes a competition. This definition can allow for the comparison that Clifford advocates for, but it also shifts the term to become different than its traditional

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