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Cultures of Diaspora

What does it mean to be at home in many places? Do cultures have borders? How have histories of migration shaped our assumptions about who belongs where – and who doesn’t?

‘Cultures of Diaspora’ explores how cultures adapt, transform, and develop across national borders. Nation-states are not static, ahistorical entities, but rather always subject to resistance and re-invention. Yet we also cannot underestimate the material effects of borders and bordering practices on the lives of migrants and their descendants, nor ignore the rise in state surveillance of communities deemed to belong outside the nation.

In this module, you will learn how the concept of diaspora helps us think about issues of identity, movement, home, and belonging, speaking to the ways in which people forge a sense of connection with others across space and time. You will also critically examine the notion that migration is a recent phenomenon by exploring how migration flows – often on a spectrum of ‘forced’ to ‘voluntary’ – have long shaped societies we think of as homogenous and self-contained. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the module covers topics such as urban space and youth activism, queer histories of the Middle Passage, hybridity and music, and diasporic foodways, with a strong focus on the cultural (and personal) as political. We will draw on ethnographic examples from the UK, the US, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, and Europe, as well as dipping into music, fiction, visual arts, and film. Throughout the module you will be encouraged to explore your own interests in relation to migration and diaspora, and to consider how different voices might tell different stories about being ‘home and away’.

Module Director:

Spela Drnovsek Zorko