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Diaspora, in Theory and at Crossroads

Diaspora, in Theory and at Crossroads

No. 7-8, Sep.-Dec. 2017 » Bridging News

Although it has been a developing field for some time, Diaspora Studies is a discipline which has remained unapproached at the academic level in our country. As the ‘diaspora’ has been more frequently mentioned in the media, in political debates and by the common people, it is necessary to understand the various aspects of the concept along with other connected ones. My two books, “Transnational Networks, Identities and Homes: South Asian Diasporic Women in Fiction and Film” (2017a) and “‘Love’ and ‘sisterhood’ in the Identities of Women in Novels by Writers of the South Asian Diaspora” (2017b), include several theories and large analyses on diaspora(s) and ‘home(s)’ (in the plural).

Ethnies are understood to make up a ‘nation’ which is different from the modern state. Equally, there are ethnic groups that are in a dominant position in relation to other (minority) ethnic groups. This ethnic dominance generates struggles over symbolic status and conflicts over indigenous-ness.

The above-mentioned books both present how the ‘home’ acquires various meanings depending on a series of factors and adapt and identify those theories in books and films by diasporic artistes of South Asian origin. The analyses confirm what theories belonging to anthropologists, sociologists and feminists assert regarding diasporic identities and their ‘homes’.

The paper utilises concepts that the author’s books work with at large with a focus on ‘diaspora’, ‘home’ and ‘(im)migrant’ in order to be applied in everyday societal and political life in Romania and not only. The purpose is to encourage users and the large audience to focus on the various aspects of diaspora, on its political power and on the way in which it influences societies instead of being trapped by generalisations and ambiguities. The author believes that it is significant for the public to be informed and continuously open to knowledge, understanding and negotiations before jumping to conclusions and/or choosing sides.

Diaspora and Other Concepts 

As identities and homes are strongly linked to the idea of ethnicity and that of community, they are the first ones to be considered in such a discussion.

Since a community or a society has therefore been viewed as being glued either by ‘natural’ solidarity or moreover by certain conscious interests, those foreign individuals who soon form into groups and communities of their own may appear as a threat to the majority society. A diaspora is a community that clashes with other communities while trying to find its rightful (?) place in a space that needs to negotiate its new aspect.

It has been scientifically established that the migration of people is not a new phenomenon (Harari 2014). On the contrary, groups of people left ‘old’ territories for ‘new’ ones in search of resources and better living conditions. They have carried along the way images, symbols, myths and later on commodities, organising themselves into communities that had structure and hierarchy while maintaining traits through endogamy which serve to distinguish them from others, up to and including allowing for racial classification.

While the Greek term ethnikos initially means ‘heathen, pagan or Gentile’ (Williams 1976: 119), its later meaning is closer to that of razza (from Italian, ‘race’). In its turn, this term ranges from the ‘stock of Abraham’ (id.) to ‘a group of human beings in extension’ (id. 248). Blumenbach (1787), as paraphrased by Williams, makes a classification of races based on the size of human skulls: thus, we are told that there are the Caucasian, the Mongolian, the Malayan, the Ethiopian, and the American (Indian) homo sapiens. In the following century, Gobineau (1853-5) suggested three main racial groupings, further subdivided, in which the Aryan race is superior from among the White race and provides its aristocracies.

Ethnies are understood to make up a ‘nation’ which is different from the modern state (Kaufmann 2004). Equally, there are ethnic groups that are in a dominant position in relation to other (minority) ethnic groups. This ethnic dominance generates struggles over symbolic status and conflicts over indigenous-ness (id.). According to Anthony D. Smith (2004), ethnic differences do not disappear in the global context and it is globalisation that has led the nation-state to lose its economic functions and political control (22).

The term ‘community’ originates in the Latin word communitas, communitatem (“community, society, fellowship, friendly intercourse; courtesy, condescension, affability”), derived from communis (“common, public, general, shared by all or many”). In Medieval Latin it came to be literally used as "a society, a division of people". In English it has acquired a large array of meanings: common people, a relatively small organized society or state, the people of a certain district, ‘community of interests, community of goods’ (Williams 75), ‘a sense of common identity and characteristic’ (id.). In 1957, Tonnies emphasises its meaning as ‘state’ or as (modern) ‘society’, yet nowadays it is rather used in phrases such as ‘community politics’ (as different from national and local politics, as it involves direct action with people).

The ethnic community or the Gemeinschaft (shared community) (Weber, in Michael Banton, 2007) is understood as prior to the ethnic group, a kunstlich (artificial) social construct (id.). Tonnies (1955) adds the meaning of solidarity and of sense of belonging to Gemeinschaft and proposes Gesellschaft, a community characterised by people who come together being guided by interests.

To take things further and look at society in relation to community, one may go as back as Nisbet’s (1967) dichotomy community/vs/society, the first being characterised by inherent ‘collectivity’ while the latter has a voluntary nature: 'While society (i.e. the post-Industrial Revolution modern West) was thought of in associational terms that were formed by the voluntary coming together of individuals, communities were viewed as collectivities or traditional groupings in which the question of individual choice did not matter. Communities prioritized norms and values of the community over the individual.' (in Jodhka 2001: 18)

A diaspora is therefore first and foremost characterised by migration. There are various types of migration among which we include voluntary and involuntary migration, forced migration, labour migration, marriage or family reunion migration, and transnational migration.

Since a community or a society has therefore been viewed as being glued either by ‘natural’ solidarity (if one gives credit to Tonnies) or moreover by certain conscious interests (cf. Nisbet), those foreign individuals who soon form into groups and communities of their own may appear as a threat to the majority society. A diaspora is a community that clashes with other communities while trying to find its rightful (?) place in a space that needs to negotiate its new aspect.

How has diaspora been perceived over time? This concept has its linguistic origins in the Greek word diasperin, meaning the scattering of a group of people whose common ‘roots’ are in the same ‘homeland’. This is necessarily linked to a sense of suffering, loss, and displacement. A diaspora is therefore first and foremost characterised by migration. There are various types of migration among which we include voluntary and involuntary migration, forced migration, labour migration, marriage or family reunion migration, and transnational migration. Irrespective of the type of migration, it is a process that impacts upon both the migrants and the societies to which they migrate. Due to this second consequence, the societies of the destination countries tend to be wary of the waves of immigrants that come to their countries. Their concerns involve changes in and hybridity of cultures, cultural (and sometimes religious) practices, and even image and composition of urban spaces. London, for example, is a great multicultural city made up of several diasporic communities who tend to occupy a space where they form miniature cities that copy those they left behind; thus, Brick Lane in East London is very well-known for its Bangladeshi community while Southall is largely populated by Punjabis.

When using terms connected to migration, one must also differentiate between immigrants – those who leave for good and have a sense of ‘permanent rupture’ with the country of origin (Handlin 1973, in Basch et al. 1994: 4), migrants – who are only transient, for example being in search of a better job and who eventually return home, and transmigrants – ‘those immigrants who develop and sustain multiple relationships’ (id. 7) across countries. 

Aspects of diaspora(s) 

Although there are numberless diasporas nowadays, Diaspora was initially capitalized and used in the singular, describing the Jewish diaspora. Later, it was extended to the Greek, African, Armenian, and the Irish diaspora, currently incorporating also the Palestinian diaspora. There are several theories on diaspora(s). William Safran (1991), for example, asserts that immigrants are diasporans only if a group of people leaves a certain ‘original’ land, the separation from which generates a generally-felt trauma; they must also have a continuous willingness to return. The physical distance from the ‘homeland’ and the potential discrimination felt in the country of destination being now a (new) minority generate a collective memory based on myths about the ‘homeland’.

Cohen also differentiates between “the ‘labour diaspora’ (e.g. indentured Indians), the ‘trade diaspora’ (the Chinese), and the ‘imperial diasporas’ created by colonial ambitions”, while deterritorialised diasporas are unique in that these groups ‘have been multiply displaced and for whom the homeland is lost forever’.

Raghuram et al. (2008) identify four conditions for a community to form a diaspora:

1) the existence of an ethnic consciousness is compulsory;

2) the group/community has an active associative life in the country of destination;

3) it maintains contacts with the ‘homeland’ (real or imaginary);

4) it entertains relations with other groups of the same ethnic origin.

As opposed to Safran’s theory, Raghuram et al. do not focus on trauma; instead, they value the active (as opposed to passive) character of the diasporans’ ‘new’ lives.

Cohen (2008) starts off from Safran’s theory and acknowledges a second stage of diaspora, encompassing the 1980s until the mid 1990s, in which a diaspora could include different categories of people – ‘different peoples’ (Safran 1991) – dispersed from the mainland. The third phase, which may be said to extend until the present, is the social constructionist phase, in which a diaspora is built on interpretations of ‘home’ and deterritorialised identities. The last phase, which co-exists with the various interpretations of ‘home’, is the consolidation phase: the notion of diaspora has been so frequently and largely used that it may lose its analytical and descriptive power. Cohen also differentiates between “the ‘labour diaspora’ (e.g. indentured Indians), the ‘trade diaspora’ (the Chinese), and the ‘imperial diasporas’ created by colonial ambitions” (Rășcanu a: 53), while deterritorialised diasporas are unique in that these groups ‘have been multiply displaced and for whom the homeland is lost forever’ (Rășcanu paraphrasing Cohen, 53).

A turning point in Diaspora Studies is Avtar Brah’s work, Cartographies of Diaspora (1996), in which she asserts that diaspora means ‘the break-up of metanarratives’ and notices the emergence of ‘new subjectivities’ and of ‘new diasporic communities’. These new subjectivities are simultaneously diasporised and rooted (in the new land), holding both the view of the native and that of the ‘diasporian’: ‘The concept [diaspora] decentres the subject position of the “native”, “immigrant”, “migrant” and the “in/outsider”, in such a way that the diasporian is as much a native as the native now becomes a diasporian. (1996: 238)

Diaspora can also be viewed as a social category (accompanied by the sense of loss and alienation) (Vertovec 1997), reminding one of Safran’s condition (of trauma) for diasporic communities. Members of a diasporic community are consciously attached to both their country of origin and to the new country, allowing first-generation members to choose whether they belong to a diaspora or not (cf. Vertovec). Diaspora is also understood as a mode of cultural production but it may also be a ‘problem’, a threat ‘to state security and to social order when seen from right-wing perspectives within the host countries’ (Vertovec, paraphrased by Hussain 2005: 6).

Over time, Safran’s description of the diasporan has changed from a diasporic consciousness of melancholia, attachment to the past and to the ‘homeland’ (‘a mindset that obtrudes the immigrant from accepting cultural accommodation in the host country’, Rășcanu a: 54) to ‘a state of enduring consciousness of living away from home, adapted to the new social and cultural context’ (Baumann, in Knott and McLoughlin 2011). Safran’s approach to diaspora has also been criticised by later theorists in that it ‘fail[s] to move beyond attachment to “primordial” connections expressed through notions of ethnicity and nationality’ (cf. Anthias 1998, Soysal 2000, in Raghuram et al. 3).

Diaspora is also understood as a mode of cultural production but it may also be a ‘problem’, a threat ‘to state security and to social order when seen from right-wing perspectives within the host countries’.

It has been shown that for any individual and, indeed, diasporan, ‘home’ is a concept ‘situated at the intersection of various meanings that span the private, public and national spaces’ (Rășcanu a: 61). This author has approached ‘home’ by using the German philosophy: thus, the concept of Heim – ‘the general equivalent of “home” as a linguistic sign with its visual material value’ (id.) – mingles with that of Heimat – in fact, ‘a multi-faceted metaphor’ (id.). It agrees with perspectives such as Blickle’s (2002) mixture of the private with the public, of the individual with the social and so on, while bridging the chronos with the topos (Bakhtin 1981).

In a diasporic context, ‘home’ is not to be reduced to a mere ‘place of return’ kept alive through memory/memories (cf. Brah 1996). This author gives credit to theorists who have taken this ‘ideology of return’ (id.) further, acknowledging the altering, flowing character of things and, indeed, of ‘homes’. Below is such an excerpt from “Transnational Networks …” in which the author emphasises precisely this: ‘(…) “home” is no longer just the repository of memories and stories from the past. Nestor Garcia Canclini notices the necessity of traditions to be engaged in some process of modification (Canclini, in Morley 2000). Otherwise, they “ossify” and “become irrelevant” (Morley 200). As Morley suggests, this view comes as a solution to Nikos Papastergiadis’s fear of the traditional “home” becoming a space of conformity “bound to unchangeable customs, restricted to pure members” (…) (quoted by Morley 2000: 42).’ (Rășcanu a: 61)

To go beyond this interpretation, the author adds that the perspective over ‘home’ as unchangeable and ossified traditions and values is not only erroneous but dangerous. The recent attempts of official certification of territorial (and not only) autonomy of certain regions (e.g. Catalonia in Spain, the so-called ‘Ținutul Secuiesc’ or ‘the Transylvanian Székelys territory’ in Romania) – some more visible than others – have resulted in hate and social fragmentation based on an appreciation of homogeneous rather than heterogeneous values and communities.

The ‘home’ seen as the idealised ‘homeland’ – or as Rushdie’s ‘imaginary homelands’ (1992) – emphasises homogeneity, a symbolic conceptualisation of belonging. This author embraces a different view, one according to which the diasporan is aware of the ‘in-between’ (Bhabha 1994) nature of their lives. It also disagrees with Fortier’s (2003) perspective on ‘homeland’ as ‘the object of longing’ and on hostland as ‘the object of efforts to belong’ (136), because ‘“home” is seen completely as an object of diasporic longing to belong and overlooks opportunities for the ‘home’ to be a process of continuous redefinition and reconceptualization by (im)migrants’ (Rășcanu a: 62). To support this idea, the author asserts that ‘the melancholic nature of a diasporic consciousness longing for a lost ‘home’ denies the existence of a “Third Space” (Bhabha 1994) meant to accommodate “in-betweenness” (id.), hybridity, combinations and recombinations of identities and “homes”’ (id.). 

Diaspora from Theory to Practice 

In the light of what has been said above, synthesized as there is not one Diaspora, but several diasporas (in the plural), informed – though not fully separated – by space (location), historical context (the period when a particular diaspora is formed), generation (what age individuals migrate at, or whether they were born in the host country), gender (men and women frequently have different migration experiences), profession (whether they are educated or not), race, nationality, and social class.

One easily understands that the Romanian diaspora in Italy, for example, is not the same as the one in Germany or the one in the Scandinavian countries and so on, mainly because of the profession that most members of the community practice. Additionally, the socio-economic and political contexts in the destination countries may be different, triggering different consequences in the welfare of the diasporans. Equally, there are differentiations among members of the same community: at economic level (individuals who belong to different social classes), gender-wise etc.

Connecting these to the latest events in Bucharest, Romania (10th August 2018 – a milestone in the history of the Romanian diasporic communities taking action at ‘home’), it is rather inappropriate to say ‘the Romanian diaspora’ in the manner largely used by the media and by the civil society at large, because it would incorporate all the communities that have in common the fact that they immigrated and that they are of Romanian nationality, ignoring the differences that may exist among them. Thus, one easily understands that the Romanian diaspora in Italy, for example, is not the same as the one in Germany or the one in the Scandinavian countries and so on, mainly because of the profession that most members of the community practice[1]. Additionally, the socio-economic and political contexts in the destination countries may be different, triggering different consequences in the welfare of the diasporans. Equally, there are differentiations among members of the same community: at economic level (individuals who belong to different social classes), gender-wise (men may have more opportunities in certain countries and vice versa).

Just as I am demonstrating in my books, i.e. diasporans/(im)migrants carry with them a certain cultural baggage when they migrate, I also insist on the double impact within the destination country. They both impact the new environment and are impacted by it. Thus, their identity is not stable and homogenous but unstable and heterogeneous. It is both fragmented and re-structuring itself in accordance with potential events and with the individuals’ needs, perceptions, choices (or lack of choice), as well as perspective(s) of the world.

Due to its unstable character and fragmentary quality, a diaspora is not fully trusted by the country of origin. The latter understands that the diasporans’ national and political (and sometimes cultural) affiliations are changed post migration. Concomitantly, the country of destination is doubtful of their willingness and even ability of embracing the new society and its culture. Here is a fragment from my book, “Transnational Networks…”, in which I explain this: ‘The national and political loyalties of diasporans are questioned by the host countries that also fear that hybridity and syncretism are capable of “diluting or undermining the traditional norms of the indigenous population” (Vertovec, paraphrased by Hussain 2005: 6). Despite host countries being afraid of the dissolution of their assumed homogenous culture and national identity, theorists such as Joel Kuortti (2007) favour an understanding of diaspora based precisely on the capacity of hybridity to challenge essentialised notions of culture and identity: the diaspora is “typically a site of hybridity which questions fixed identities based on essentialisms” (3).’ (Rășcanu 2017a: 53)

Due to its unstable character and fragmentary quality, a diaspora is not fully trusted by the country of origin. The latter understands that the diasporans’ national and political (and sometimes cultural) affiliations are changed post migration.

As may clearly be seen, the position of the diasporan/immigrant is one of in-betweenness, from several points of view. Apart from the difficulty of balancing their loyalties, they also need to face the response of the criticising and untrusting societies (from ‘home’ and from far away). Forced to continuously demonstrate that they deserve to belong, diasporans may feel deserted and disappointed at different moments in time. The immaterial ‘home’, the Heimat, is therefore always re-adjusting, fragmented and even conflictual.

There are nonetheless a few stages that have been identified in the experience of diasporic individuals. Various discussions I have had with diasporans over the course of my research allow me to track a certain order in which these stages take place without assuming that this is the only possible one.

A first stage in the immigrant’s/diasporan’s psyche and national affiliation post migration is a strong renaissance of national sentiment: finding oneself at a fairly significant physical distance from the homeland, the individual’s feelings of appreciation and nostalgia[2] seem to instantly ‘awaken’, the homeland turning into a beloved place (usually termed as ‘my birth place’) from which s/he has been separated. When the separation has been generated by war, political conflict and so on, the trauma which joins it is even deeper than in the case of economic immigrants. The latter experience a sort of internal conflict of love and hate: love for the mother country (idealised) and hate for its inability to offer them enough opportunities to forestall their migration.

The second stage is one of gradual adaptation to the new cultural environment. By necessity or by choice, this adaptation does not happen all at once and not necessarily in the same order/manner for each individual. For example, some may already know the new language to varying extents while others start off with no knowledge whatsoever. During this stage, the contact with the home culture is progressively lost, attention being paid to the realities of the country of destination: there are bills to be paid, documents to draft, errands to run, savings to put aside, while (if possible) maintaining social relations with the natives.

There are other stages that follow the previous one. This researcher has not managed to find a clear and fixed order due to the variability of each individual’s ‘in-betweeness’ (between one culture/country and the other). 

The Romanian experience 

Adapting these stages to ‘the Romanian diaspora’ specifically, trying to decode the message ‘vrem o țară ca afară’ (‘We want a country such as abroad’) jointly with the voiced intentions of return, one understands that they see themselves as diasporans (rather than as immigrants or migrants) longing to come back ‘home’ where they could make a decent (especially material) living, comparable to the one they have abroad. Those who have achieved satisfaction (materially speaking) but are dissatisfied on a personal and social level – e.g. they are all alone (no family/wife/girlfriend etc.) and did not manage to make friends among the majority population – have almost no alternative but to look back toward the country of origin as the last resort. The latter is seen as an abandoned homeland (accompanied by feelings of guilt, especially when loved ones have been left behind) or, on the contrary, the individual feels abandoned by the mother land, forced to seek a better future (accompanied by a mixture of resentment and forgiveness).

As may clearly be seen, the position of the diasporan/immigrant is one of in-betweenness, from several points of view. Apart from the difficulty of balancing their loyalties, they also need to face the response of the criticising and untrusting societies (from ‘home’ and from far away). Forced to continuously demonstrate that they deserve to belong, diasporans may feel deserted and disappointed at different moments in time.

By understanding ‘diaspora’ and ‘home’ from these points of view, one may assert that it is not difficult for clever minds to manipulate diasporans by using what I call the return-home strategy (inspired by Brah’s ideology of return). To demonstrate this, I shall begin by reminding you that the homeland (including parents, children, extended families, friends, memories of childhood and so on) is indeed the soft spot of a diasporan, especially of first-generation immigrants and it still is a ‘problem’ that could not find a final answer.

There are many reasons that allow us to think that, despite the diasporans’ willingness to return, they will nonetheless rarely if ever come back for good. Yet, I am making a point here of not generalising this situation due to the variety of immigrant experiences. There is indeed a tendency among first-generation immigrants who had shown themselves willing to return when they will have saved enough to lead a satisfactory life in the country of origin. Although not a rule, this usually does not happen among immigrants from developing and under-developed countries – actually an understatement since migrants from developed countries are moreover perceived as (and called) ‘expats’ instead of ‘(im)migrants’ (a term with a pejorative meaning).

The return is postponed or simply does not happen because it takes too long and too much hard work until the diasporans/immigrants save what they perceive as a necessary amount of money. By that time, they and especially their children may develop their own standard of living in the host country which they do not want to change. Equally, their familial situation back home may change – e.g. their parents and relatives pass on, they no longer have a house etc. – which makes them remain in the host country.

There are many reasons that allow us to think that, despite the diasporans’ willingness to return, they will nonetheless rarely if ever come back for good.

Besides the return-home strategy meant to attract the diasporans’ sympathies, there are yet other, more transparent strategies on the part of governments meaning to attract immigrants to come back home. It is comparable to a win-win situation in business negotiations in which the government of the home country enforces attractive laws for immigrants with entrepreneurial qualities. Thus, the government wins back investors and labour force needed back home and diasporans reconnect with their homeland at a higher status than the one they had prior to migrating.

The second- and third-generation immigrants are moreover (though not always) believed to be less (if at all) inclined towards returning to their parents’ homeland. Having been born in the host country, having formed relationships and a social status there, they do not see return as a potential future. Concomitantly, when the children of first-generation immigrants become rooted in the country of destination, the latter’s choice of not returning becomes more practical.

Generation is not the only factor that influences return or non-return. The diasporans’ social and economic situation weighs heavily on their choice. Isolation, discrimination, exploitation and, more recently, modern slavery suffered in the host country are significant reasons for diasporans to want to return and/or strengthen their relationship with the homeland which they idealise. Thus, the view of ‘home’ as the repository of memories, myths, (‘pure’) traditions and values is emphasised.

Some diasporans, however, are more pragmatic individuals and, besides sending remittances in order to help their relatives, they also use their savings in order to invest, especially in real estate and the tourist industry in the country of origin. For such individuals, the ‘homeland’ is not merely an ‘imaginary land’ which has changed in time and lives just in his/her memory, but one of the several material homes (Heim) of the diasporan. Seen from this perspective, the diasporans may be developing transnationals identities, able to travel back and forth, and (partly) develop and manage businesses from a distance via the Internet.

Less successful diasporans are happy to spend their holidays in the country of origin, facilitating a reconnection with the extended family. They may also enable their families from back home to visit them in their host country. Either way, holidays in diasporic terms may frequently mean temporary family reunions. This, joined by cultural practices and artefacts, have the power to (temporarily) materialise/embody the ‘imaginary homeland’ of the diasporan.

There is yet another category of diasporans for whom travelling back and forth represents an impractical or unrealistic material effort; equally, there are immigrants for whom a visa is needed in order to be able to cross the border – this means extra time and money. These obstacles extend the distance between the country of destination and that of origin while deepening the diasporan’s feeling of nostalgia. In such circumstances, the idealised ‘homeland’ and the ideology of return may be easily boosted until new changes in their economic and social satisfaction.

The second- and third-generation immigrants are moreover (though not always) believed to be less (if at all) inclined towards returning to their parents’ homeland. Having been born in the host country, having formed relationships and a social status there, they do not see return as a potential future. Concomitantly, when the children of first-generation immigrants become rooted in the country of destination, the latter’s choice of not returning becomes more practical.

Conclusions

The diaspora is a complex concept that needs to be looked at from its various angles. Likewise, ‘home’ is not merely the habitus, the dwelling, the space; it is not simply the idealised ‘homeland’ to which the diasporan wants to return; it is a mixture of meanings that include the idea of ‘Third Space’ and ‘in-betweenness’. Return may be needed/forced and it may sometimes not be a choice. However, the diasporan should be aware of the consequences of return and of the process of dediasporisation (Laguerre 2006).

To conclude this article, I will provide a fragment from “Transnational Networks …” which speaks of return and dediasporisation in the framework of reintegration in the country of origin as the ‘home’ that is no longer the same as it was known: ‘Before the state allows dediasporization, it is the individual who must be willing to initiate this process. Often, these immigrants are seen as foreigners by the “homeland” population, “having a different social standing because of their transnational relations and sometimes because of their wealth” (Laguerre 135). In other words, returnees are looking for social recognition in the country of origin which, in case they do not obtain, but also when they do, they are unwilling to integrate and continue to follow “manners they acquired abroad, and sometimes participate in a transnational circuit of parents and friends who live abroad” (ibid.).’ (Rășcanu 2017a: 70)

Thus, when one analyses and/or criticises diaspora, the idea of return – despite playing a significant part in the diasporans’ psyche – must not be viewed as an immovable element or factor. The other elements that make up the jigsaw of their current lives include an important segment within the environment of the host country, pushing return aside, at least for the time being. The difficulty of the process of dediasporization in certain cases may also cast a different light from what has been seen before Laguerre on the wish to return. Thus, ‘home’ is always a number of ‘homes’ ordered according to their level of familiarity and welcome for the immigrant. 

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https://www.etymonline.com/word/community

 

[1] Note that the author avoids generalising when talking about (diasporic) communities. In a diaspora, there are more or less active members in the community; equally, there are socio-economic differences among members of the same community.

[2] Nostalgia is described in more detail in Transnational Networks … (pp. 68-69).

 
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OEconomica No. 1, 2016