Diasporas: An Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference
The dispersion of communities of people physically displaced from their perceived ‘homeland’ to other parts of the globe has been a defining feature of the human experience. Commonly referred to as diasporas, these groups have travelled to other lands for reasons including to escape persecution, to seek a better life and to exploit economic opportunities. As a critical framework, diaspora directs our attention to the impact of relocation/dislocation on the lives and identities of affected individuals, the homelands they leave and the new places where they make their homes. Diaspora has often been defined in terms of what it is not – not from “here,” not “at home,” not “rooted.” This approach is consistent with the way modern—that is, privileged—subjectivity is primed to understand identity in terms of how it differs from an ‘other’. For this reason, the language of difference is inextricably linked to the concept of identity. Whether they are designated as exiles, expatriates, alien residents, transnationals, dual/multiple-citizens, refugees, or other migrants, diasporans frequently are regarded—by others as well as by themselves—as ‘other’. While diaspora offers convenient terminology for talking about groups living away from an ancestral homeland, it has acquired particular meanings and connotations about the nature of dispersion, the orientation of displaced persons to the homeland and the impact of boundaries on identity. However, influential voices in the field have called for diaspora to be through of as a critical practice that engages in an ongoing discussion with diasporic experience without falling into the temptations to categorize or define too rigidly.
As we approach the end of the first 20 years of the 21st century, we are well positioned to consider how members of displaced groups relate to identity markers such as race, ethnicity, nationality, language, religion, and other socio-cultural categories, having regard to the impact of globalisation, connectivity and mobility. If the language of difference, binary categories of here/there and other features of customary understandings of diaspora are no longer appropriate, then new approaches for conceptualising, theorising, representing and interacting with diasporas are needed. Accordingly, the third international interdisciplinary conference on diaspora provides a platform for participants from all relevant fields, professions and practices to engage in dialogues that shed light on the evolving meaning of diasporas and the tangible application of that knowledge in the community with a view to forming a selective publication to engender further research and collaboration. The conference organisers welcome proposals for presentations in a variety of formats (presentations, workshops, panels, group activities, performances, etc.) that address any aspect of diaspora. These topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Home: ideas of what constitutes home and belonging or being at home; “homing”; relationships between diaspora communities and so-called homelands; replication or (re-)creation of home/land; idealisation of returning home; experiences of returning home
- Identity and representation of diaspora including through memory and witnessing; literature; music; performance; film and other visual media
- Power and voice: liminality and in-betweenness, marginalisation, (in)visibility, and relations of and to power
- Policy and law: NGOs, charities and government agencies that provide assistance to diasporans; political agency and activism of diasporans; impact of diaspora on foreign policy; approaches to recognising and protecting rights of diasporans
- Connectivity and technology: impact of television, radio, telephony, the internet, social media, and other modes of connection; eDiasporas; impact of privilege on who is connected and who is not; role of technology in assisting diaspora to reshape “home” from a distance and vice versa
- Impact of intersectionalities: entanglements/tensions relating to language, race and ethnicity, nationality, culture and other diasporic diversities on relations within and between diaspora communities—and how those relationships are discussed
- Sex, gender, and sexuality: how differences in sex, gender, and orientation produce differing perspectives on what constitutes diasporic identity; how these differences produce competing diasporic narratives; how diasporic experiences facilitate the production of alternate social performances and identity narratives; how LGBTQ+ members of diaspora communities negotiate hetero-normativity in their respective communities; queering diaspora/diasporicising the queer; experiences of women, trans individuals, those who identity as queer (queer diasporas), those involved in the sex industry, the cultural roles that sex plays, etc.
- Economics: Employment and financial security for diaspora communities; economic impacts of movement by diasporas (including international trade relations)
- Education and pedagogy: how diaspora and education mutually inform each other; experiences of diasporans in the classroom; how diaspora is taught
- Generational issues; intergenerational challenges faced by aging diasporas; differences in diasporic experiences among (grand)parents and children; how age and generational differences impact the ways in which the diaspora self-identifies and represents itself to others
- Post-colonialism and decolonisation: how discourses around diaspora shifts vis-a-vis evolving politics of post-colonialism and decolonisation, particularly in relation to the ways in which “here” and “there” have traditionally been constructed within colonial language
- Health and wellness: health care and wellness issues that affect diasporans specifically, including ‘Mad Culture’; impact of governments, medical professionals, other institutions and filters on health services for members of diaspora communities; contributions by members of diasporic communities to health and wellness practices (e.g. Eastern medicine treatments, etc.)
- Legacies: impact of diaspora on evolution of languages, genetic traits, geographical boundaries, etc.