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Diasporas and the Transnationalization of African Politics  

Terrence Lyons

Political outcomes in Africa are increasingly shaped by ideas, actors, and processes that are transnational in character. Diasporas and transnational communities living in new host countries but still connected to homelands provide resources, leadership, and other forms of support that shape political outcomes in the country of origin. African politics take place in these transnational spaces, less restricted by the need to be close geographically. From civil war in Burundi and Somalia, electoral outcomes in Liberia, Ghana, and Kenya, and civil society initiatives in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, actors and processes that are globally distributed and linked through transnational networks are increasingly at the center of African politics. Much of the literature on diasporas emphasizes cultural links or specific forms of identity whereby residents at a distance remain deeply connected with their kin back home in a form of “long-distance nationalism.” From the perspective of seeking an understanding of the transnationalization of African politics, however, it is more useful to see diasporas as the outcomes of processes of political mobilization, constituencies activated by political entrepreneurs to advance specific political agendas. Leaders invest in creating and sustaining diasporas because these networks are strategic assets that allow them to deploy specific identity frames and categories, to make claims for resources and loyalty, and to engage in diverse activities in dispersed locations to maximize impact. In many cases African governments wish to engage with diasporas in order to encourage remittances and investments in the homeland. Many have created special directorates for diaspora affairs and some have considered different forms of dual citizenship or overseas voting in order to build these linkages. Diasporas play important roles in lobbying new host governments to either increase pressures on homeland regimes or to increase donor support. In addition, politically mobilized populations in the diaspora often play key roles as sources of financial support for opposition political parties and through diaspora media that can shape the nature of political debates. Liberian and Ethiopian politicians often campaign and fundraise in the United States. In authoritarian settings such as Zimbabwe and Togo, the closing of political space at home makes the diaspora even more important as a means to fill the vacuum. Civil wars always have transnational dimensions as both rebels and incumbent regimes reach beyond their borders for political support and resources. Whether it is African National Congress’s (ANC’s) de facto embassies during apartheid, diaspora support for the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, refugee recruits to rebel movements in the Mano River region of West Africa, or exiled politicians attempting to stage-manage peace talks in Darfur from Paris, the contentious politics of armed conflict is rarely contained by borders. Extended civil wars and political crises that generate substantial refugee flows, particularly to Europe and North America, have created cases where transnational politics is most pronounced. “Conflict-generated diasporas” may be more categorical in their political positions and therefore limit options for homeland politicians dependent on the diaspora’s support. A complete analysis of African politics therefore requires consideration of how transnational mobilization can shape outcomes. Political actors on the continent, whether they are governments, opposition parties, civil society organizations, or rebels, recognize that linking their goals to the resources and ideas based in diasporas provides advantages in their struggles at home. Increasingly, scholars have recognized that understanding political processes and outcomes in Nigeria, Cameroon, or Zimbabwe entails consideration of transnational dimensions. This seems to be even more the case in countries that have experienced conflict, such as Liberia, Somalia, or Eritrea.

Article

Stateless Diasporas and China’s Uyghur Crisis in the 21st Century  

Işık Kuşçu Bonnenfant

Research on contemporary diasporas and their political mobilization strategies has proliferated. The literature differentiates between the mobilization strategies of stateless and state-linked diaspora. While earlier works have argued that stateless diasporas pursue more violent strategies with, as an end goal, secession, more recent studies have suggested that this is not always the case. Research on diaspora has also borrowed extensively from social movement theory. This has allowed researchers to focus on diaspora as a social group that can mobilize in convenient political opportunity structures with claim-making ability. A political opportunity structure is the combination of structural and contextual conditions that permits diaspora mobilization. Mobilizing structures and frames are the two other analytical tools of social movement theory that have previously inspired diaspora scholars. Mobilizing structures are formal and informal structures in which diasporas can organize collectively for a common cause. Various frames, such as human rights, enable a diaspora to make sense of certain events and conditions in its aim to mobilize members into action. Nearly 500,000 to 600,000 Uyghurs live as diaspora today; most of them left their homeland, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, because of increasingly repressive policies targeting the very core elements of their identity. Uyghurs are one of the 55 ethnic minorities in China. Particularly after the end of the Cold War and the independence of the neighboring Central Asian republics, China perceived a threat of secession from the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Later, 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror instigated China to adopt a new rhetoric, one that focused on the “fight against terrorism” in its policies toward Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Riots and several terrorist incidents reinforced this discourse and legitimized China’s securitization of the Uyghur issue. Since 2010, China has increased surveillance activities in the region, arbitrarily detained up to a million people, and violated the basic rights of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Since the 1960s, the Uyghur diaspora has pursued various mobilization strategies, most of which are confined to nonviolent repertoires of action. Uyghurs abroad have utilized various mobilization structures and political opportunity structures and frames. The first-generation Uyghur diaspora contributed greatly to the construction of a national identity and history, and this was an alternative to China’s dominant narratives. The second generation has benefited from better political opportunity structures and managed to bring various Uyghur diaspora organizations under one umbrella, the World Uyghur Congress. The Uyghur diaspora vigorously continues its efforts to create awareness on the plight of its brethren in the homeland within a human rights–based frame using moderate strategies of action. The Uyghur diaspora leadership has become a legitimate transnational actor, one that is now taken quite seriously by various states and international organizations.

Article

Transnational and Queer Diasporic Sexualities  

Fatima Zahrae Chrifi Alaoui

Research on transnational and queer diasporic sexualities is still in its infancy but continues to evolve rapidly as understandings of sexuality and queer identity become further complicated. The nuanced and contextual intersections of queer identity as paired with cultural specificity amplify and redefine queerness across space. Pushing back against long-standing notions of what queer looks like in the West, transnational and diasporic queer sexual identities transcend normative definitions of what sexualities can look like outside of rigid binary thinking. Considering three core themes—Western hegemony, transnational and queer diasporic families, and blurring the First/Third World binary—offers the ability to highlight lived experiences to better understand the complexities of the past, present, and future of transnational and queer diasporic sexualities.

Article

Palestinian Muslim Communities in Colombia  

Felipe Medina Gutiérrez and Odette Yidi David

Arabic-speaking peoples, including Palestinians mostly Christian from Ottoman-controlled lands and later living under European mandates in greater Syria, migrated to the Americas, during the last quarter of the 19th century and until the end of the World War II. The creation of the State of Israel in May 1948 meant the expulsion and forced migration of yet more Palestinians, some settling in refugee camps in the region and others moving to distant countries, such as Colombia. This new wave of Palestinian immigrants was overwhelmingly Muslim. The Palestinian diaspora in the 21st century comprises about ten million people around the world and is highly diverse in terms of religious identity. Some communities have organized around supporting the development of their host countries and homeland; nonetheless, not many people are aware of these stories. Also, it is common in the “West” to witness accusations that Palestinians, Muslims, and Arabs in general are violent by nature, as a result of a series of orientalist misconceptions about a people and a religion that, despite exceeding 1,600 billion believers around the world, remains misunderstood. Something similar happens with the Palestinian diaspora in Colombia, where little research has been undertaken to historicize their presence and interactions. Primary and secondary sources illustrate how the Palestinian Muslim immigrant community in Colombia has integrated into the local society and strengthened its ties on a social level beyond the political and economic issues, with consideration of its religious identity and minority condition.

Article

Diaspora Curriculum  

Ming Fang He

Diaspora curriculum draws upon a wide array of theoretical traditions of diasporas such as conceptions of diasporas; the breadth, diversity, and complexity of diasporas; diaspora consciousness; diasporic space and the in-betweenness of diasporas; exile and diaspora epistemology; exile pedagogy; exile curriculum; decolonizing diasporas; diasporic imaginaries and diasporic futurism; Afrofuturism; and Indigenous futurism. The diaspora curriculum, with its epistemological similarity to exile pedagogy and exile curriculum, is interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and counterdisciplinary. Diaspora curriculum is international, transnational, and counternational. Diaspora curriculum, with its interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, and counterdisciplinarity, thrives with diverse paradigms, perspectives, and possibilities, and demands multiple understandings toward commonplaces (teachers, learners, subject matters, and milieu) in diverse contexts. The breadth, diversity, and complexity of diaspora curriculum and its practical relevance are central to a wide array of educational thoughts reflected in contested theories, practices, and contexts. In addition to its breadth, diversity, and complexity, another illuminating aspect of diaspora curriculum is evolving diasporic imaginaries, where we can keep our hopes and dreams alive in hard times when white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and settler colonialism are bolstered by hatred of differences. Such diasporic imaginaries invent diasporic futurities and cultivate radical possibilities and revolutionary imagination. Such diasporic futurities exhilarate diasporic consciousness that educates hope, evokes different histories and different futures, and invigorates radical love. Such diasporic consciousness enables people to find the strength, faith, and humility to join in common struggles and build solidarity across differences to fight against all forms of oppression. Such diasporic futurities inspire optimism over despair, love over hatred, and possibilities over impossibilities. Such diasporic futurities invigorate diasporic space for imagined communities where curriculum workers work with other educational workers such as researchers, educators, teachers, administrators, parents, students, community workers, and policy makers to heal the soul of humanity and planet with shared interests, principles, and visions for desirable collective futures in an increasingly complicated, diversified, uncertain, and fragile world.

Article

African and Black Diaspora as Curriculum  

Horace R. Hall

The African diaspora, also referred to as the African Black diaspora, is the voluntary and involuntary movement of Africans and their descendants to various parts of the world. Even though voluntary widespread African diasporas occurred during precolonizing periods, the Arabic slave trade (7th to 18th centuries) and the transatlantic slave trade (16th to 19th centuries) are largely recognized as phases of involuntary movement with an estimated combined 30 million Africans dispersed across the African continent and globally. Today, the largest populations of people descended from Africans forcibly removed from Africa reside in Brazil, the Caribbean, and the United States, with millions more in other countries. Such vast movement of a people across time and space has meant that those who are part of the African diaspora have suffered similar problems and disadvantages. The legacy of slavery, especially in relation to racism and colonialism, has garnered attention across the scholarly disciplines of history, ethnic, cultural, and religious studies. Likewise, African and Black diasporan responses to colonial oppression have manifested in multiple curricula in literature, music, philosophy, politics, civilization, customs, and so forth, designed for and by African diasporans in their efforts to unite all people of African descent, building on their cultural identity and resisting racist ideology and colonial rule.

Article

Women and Pan-Africanism  

Hakim Adi

Women played a central role in the development of Pan-Africanism. It can even be claimed that it was a woman, the South African Alice Kinloch, who initiated the modern Pan-African movement at the dawn of the 20th century. In the early 21st century it has become fashionable, mainly in some academic circles in the United States, to use the term “Black Internationalism” as an alternative to Pan-Africanism. This phrase was also first coined by a woman, Jeanne Nardal, an influential and important Martinican writer in Paris in the 1920s, who used the term internationalisme noir to refer to the growing links between “Negroes of all origins and nationalities.” There is no doubt that she also used the phrase to refer to the growing Pan-Africanism of the period, and therefore it is difficult to see what distinguishes the two terms. There has never been one universally accepted definition of exactly what constitutes Pan-Africanism. It has taken different forms at different historical moments and geographical locations. What underlies the manifold visions and approaches of Pan-Africanism and Pan-Africanists is a belief in the unity, common history, and common purpose of the peoples of Africa and the African diaspora and the notion that their destinies are interconnected. In addition, many would highlight the importance of the liberation and advancement of the African continent itself, not just for its inhabitants but also as the homeland of the entire African diaspora. Pan-Africanist thought and action is principally connected with, and provoked by, the modern dispersal of Africans resulting from the trafficking of captives across the Atlantic to the Americas, as well as elsewhere. The largest forced migration in history, and the creation of the African diaspora, was accompanied by the emergence of global capitalism, European colonial rule, and anti-African racism. Pan-Africanism evolved as a variety of ideas, activities, organizations, and movements that, sometimes in concert, resisted the exploitation and oppression of all those of African heritage; opposed and refuted the ideologies of anti-African racism; and celebrated African achievement, history, and the very notion of being African. Pan-Africanism looks forward to a genuinely united and independent Africa as the basis for the liberation of all Africans, both those on the continent and in the diaspora. However, it should be made clear that historically there have been two main strands of Pan-Africanism. The earlier form emerging during and after the period of trans-Atlantic enslavement originated from the African diaspora and stressed the unity of all Africans and looked toward their liberation and that of the African continent. The more recent form emerged in the context of the anti-colonial struggle on the African continent in the period after 1945. This form of Pan-Africanism stressed the unity, liberation, and advancement of the states of the African continent, although often recognizing the importance of the diaspora and its inclusion. The continental focus of this form of Pan-Africanism can be seen in the orientation and activities of such organizations as the Organisation of African Unity and the African Union. The more recent continental form of Pan-Africanism is likely to include the peoples and states of North Africa, while the earlier form sometimes does not. Although women such Alice Kinloch and Jeanne Nardal have played an important role in the emergence and development of the modern Pan-African movement and its ideologies, there have been few studies devoted solely to women’s involvement with Pan-Africanism. Some significant organizations such as the Pan-African Women’s Organisation, founded in 1962 and still in existence, have no written history and have therefore been excluded from many accounts. It is evident that women were generally less prominent than men in the Pan-African movement, but also that the literature has often overlooked, underestimated, and sometimes ignored the role of women.

Article

Transnationalism and Asian American Performance  

Elizabeth W. Son

At once a process, a condition, and a mode of practice, transnationalism indexes the ways in which Asian American subjects have contended with the legacies of (neo)imperialism, war, militarism, and late capitalist modernity. This culturally manifests in dance club scenes, street festivals, community drumming events, memorials, performance art, theater, and more. A transnational approach counters some of the nation-state frameworks that have traditionally dominated understandings of Asian American culture. Thus, transnationalism provides a rich theoretical and methodological approach that is well suited to apprehending the dynamism, constraints, and potentialities of transnational Asian American social and cultural performances as they have moved and metamorphosed in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

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The Making of the Arab Caribbean, c. 1870–1930  

Jacob Norris

Arabic-speaking migrants from the Ottoman Empire embarked on mass migrations across the Atlantic in the late 19th century. Large numbers traded and settled in the Caribbean region, forming the nucleus of communities that still thrive in the early 21st century. Although underplayed in the existing historical literature on the Caribbean and modern Middle East, these Caribbean migrations were a vital part of the creation of an Arab diaspora across the Americas. In the early years of emigration out of the Ottoman Empire, mostly Christian Arabs utilized their preexisting trading bases in the ports of Western Europe to launch new exploratory ventures across the Atlantic. In many cases, the Caribbean islands were their first ports of call where they found ideal conditions for peddling small consumer goods they imported from Europe and North America. From these initial bases, they fanned out across the region, often using the Caribbean islands as stepping stones toward ventures on the mainland. A pattern developed whereby migrants sought out boomtowns around the Caribbean region where fast-expanding export economies (particularly in bananas and sugar) offered lucrative opportunities for peddlers and small-scale retailers. In cities like San Pedro Sula (Honduras), San Pedro de Macorís (Dominican Republic), and Barranquilla (Colombia), Arab traders played central roles in the rapid growth of the local economy. Taken collectively, these case studies speak of an “Arab Caribbean”—a regional sphere of migration and trade that transcended national boundaries, encompassing both the islands and the Caribbean coasts of Mexico, Central America, and South America. Despite their frequent persecution in their new places of residence, Arab migrants in the Caribbean proved remarkably resilient, utilizing their region-wide networks to regroup and adapt to the changing economic and political landscape.

Article

Malagasy Diaspora in the Indian Ocean  

Jane Hooper

Since at least the 15th century, people from Madagascar have been leaving the Big Island and living in communities located around the Indian Ocean. Most of these migrants were unfree, having been forcibly transported to labor in East Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the ocean, an unknown number of enslaved Malagasy had left the island on African and Arab vessels. Between 1500 and 1930, an estimated half a million people were carried from the shores of Madagascar, many of these Malagasy purchased by Europeans. The island’s west coast was frequented by Portuguese, Dutch, Arab, and English merchants, while the east coast was dominated by French slavers. Enslaved Malagasy comprised a sizeable proportion of slave populations on Mauritius, Réunion, and at the Cape during the 17th and 18th centuries. After the abolition of the slave trade, Europeans transported about 18,000 contract laborers from Madagascar to labor in plantations on Réunion, Mauritius, Mayotte, and Nosy Be. Throughout these centuries of intense migration, Malagasy contributed to the linguistic, religious, and cultural practices of their new homes. Memories of Malagasy ancestry remained potent into the 21st century and are made visible in performances such as sega that remind descendants of their continuing links with Madagascar.

Article

Buddhist Missionaries  

Brooke Schedneck

Buddhists missionize in distinct ways by building on historical models, such as a concern with bringing knowledge and spreading teachings, as opposed to formal conversion and renunciation of previous religious beliefs. Academic scholarship tends to treat Buddhist missionization as a historical phenomenon. Yet it continues to be an important component of the tradition for Buddhists in the 21st century, motivating them to travel to spread the Buddha’s teachings to those who demonstrate curiosity. Because of Buddhists’ interest in conveying the dharma, they have often aligned the teachings with modern discourses, resulting in what scholars have called modern Buddhism. Buddhist missionaries have also argued that the dharma fits within contexts of social justice, which has been labeled engaged Buddhism. Examples of missionaries from East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the West, and world-famous monks such as the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh, demonstrate spreading the teachings is a major motivation. These figures formulate their message in modern or socially engaged frameworks, but the root of their activity is missionizing. The main message of contemporary Buddhist missionaries is that Buddhism is open and welcoming to everyone, one does not have to convert to practice within Buddhism, and the Buddhist teachings apply to everyone.

Article

African Religions in Early America and the United States  

Ras Michael Brown

Africans brought their religious cultures to the lands that became the United States beginning in the early stages of European colonization in the 16th century through the end of enslavement in the mid-19th century. Their religions included diverse Indigenous African religious cultures in addition to their multiple interpretations of Islam and Christianity that often became integral to their plural spiritualities. These plural spiritualities promoted simultaneous engagement with as many religious experiences and expressions as people needed or wanted. This manner of nurturing complex spiritual ecologies allowed Africans cast into Atlantic captivity to recreate their religious communities around ways of “becoming,” “dwelling,” and “healing” that resonated between the diverse religious cultures thrust together through slavery. African religions provided enslaved people with the spiritual force and weapons needed to battle their condition and captors, as they did in varied forms in New York, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and points in between.

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Slavery and the African Diaspora in Spanish America  

Sabrina Smith

The European demand for African captives in Spanish America began during the conquest and settlement of the New World. This labor demand quickly became a part of the global forced movement of captive Africans. During the colonial period, from the 1500s to the mid-19th century, over 12.5 million captives arrived in the Americas from Africa, primarily West Central Africa. For Spanish America, approximately 2,072,300 people endured the transoceanic and intra-American slave trades and disembarked at Atlantic-facing ports in the mainland of this region. Many of these individuals later experienced the forced migration to the cities and sugar-producing lowlands in New Spain (Mexico) and Peru. Following the military invasion in New Spain and Peru, African and American-born captives formed a supplementary labor force in Spanish America. Enslaved people labored in producing agricultural products, such as sugar and coffee. They also worked with indigenous populations in silver mining and urban textile mills. In Spanish American cities, captives were skilled artisans and shopkeepers, and they offered domestic services in the homes of Spanish elites. Captives often challenged their enslavement throughout Spanish America. Some enslaved men and women challenged enslavers in the colonial courts. Other enslaved people, such as the Wolof slaves in Hispaniola, collaborated with native Taíno people to form one of the earliest slave revolts in the Americas. Many captives also saved their earnings to purchase their legal freedom, while others fled to new locations. Runaways often formed autonomous communities in the remote areas of Hispaniola, Panama, New Granada (Colombia), Peru, and New Spain. In New Granada, for instance, runaways formed palenques (autonomous slave communities) as early as the 1590s. These maroon communities were able to survive because they opposed the colonial state, developed their own system of governance, and at times, negotiated with colonial authorities. By the early 1800s, African-descended people also formed an important part of the wars for independence and the formal abolition of slavery. In Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Central America, the end of Spanish colonial rule and abolition were closely linked in the first three decades of the 19th century. In South America, enslaved people participated in the wars for independence. Similarly, gradual abolition in this region included abolitionist debates, Free Womb Laws, and conditional freedom for the enslaved. Cuba was the last Spanish colony to end slavery in 1886.

Article

Basques in the Atlantic World, 1450–1824  

Xabier Lamikiz

Basques formed a minority ethnic group whose diaspora had a significant impact on the history of colonial Latin America. Basques from the four Spanish or peninsular Basque territories—the Lordship of Vizcaya, the provinces of Álava and Guipúzcoa, and the Kingdom of Navarra—migrated to the New World in significant numbers; the French Basques were also prominent in the Atlantic, particularly in the Newfoundland fisheries. The population density of the Basque Atlantic valleys, which was the highest of any region in Spain, was an important factor that encouraged emigration. And, in response to demographic pressure, in the second half of the 15th century most villages and towns adopted an impartible inheritance system that compelled non-inheriting offspring to seek their fortunes outside the country. Castile was the immediate choice for the Basque émigré, but after 1492 America gradually became an attractive destination. Outside their home country, their unique language and sense of collective nobility (hidalguía universal) were to become two outstanding features of Basque cultural identity. The Basques’ share of total Spanish migration to the New World increased significantly in the second half of the 17th century. By the 18th century they were one of the largest and most influential peninsular regional groups in America. The typical Basque émigré was a young, single man aged between fifteen and thirty. In the New World they left their mark in economic activities that their countrymen had developed in their homeland for centuries: trade, navigation, shipbuilding, and mining. Furthermore, Basques’ collective nobility and limpieza de sangre (blood purity) facilitated their access to important official positions.

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Hausa Diasporas and Slavery in Africa, the Atlantic, and the Muslim World  

Camille Lefebvre

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Hausa diasporas related to slavery were scattered broadly across continents and oceans. Individuals and groups who spoke Hausa, and therefore could define themselves or be considered Hausa, migrated and settled in different areas of the world in relation to slavery and slave trafficking. Hausas participated in the Atlantic, Islamic, and Ottoman slave trades both as slavers and as enslaved cargoes,some Hausas contributed to the management and organization of slave-trafficking operations and others were forced to migrate as slaves. Over the course of the 18th to the 20th century, Hausa diasporas related to slavery altered their trajectories and strategies in response to regional and global transformations, first because of the inclusion of hausa phone areas in the Atlantic slave traffic, secondly because of West African jihads, thirdly because of the gradual end of trans-Atlantic and trans-Saharan slave trafficking in the age of abolition, and at last because of European imperialism.

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Twenty-First-Century West Indian Fiction  

Sheri-Marie Harrison

West Indian fiction in the 21st century continues a tradition begun in the late 1990s as the fourth generation of Anglophone Caribbean writing. Though West Indian writing dates back to the early 19th century, West Indian literature began coalescing into a discrete field of study in the 1930s, motivated in large part by the political imperatives of anti-colonialism, political independence, and decolonization. Much of the fiction published in the late 90s to the present continues to adhere to the realist mode of representing Caribbean life—both in the region and in diaspora—as well as thematic engagements with decolonization, cultural nationalism, migration, diaspora, race, class, gender, and sexuality. Historical novels, modernist narratives, coming-of-age stories, and neoslave narratives remain significant features of West Indian fiction, in ways that are geared toward negotiating sovereign realties for individuals and communities that share a history of colonial domination, slavery, indentureship, and more recently, depleted cultural nationalisms. In the last decade, scholars in the field have begun the work of theorizing the recent fictional output as constituting its own discrete moment in literary development. What is distinct about contemporary writing is the way in which some authors have begun to ironically rework now-familiar forms, themes, and politics of West Indian writing. Some recent West Indian fiction produces atypical, often incomprehensible, and ultimately dissonant conclusions designed to complicate the political priorities of previous generations. This ironic approach typifies 21st-century West Indian fiction’s skepticism about the nation building and identity politics developed in previous waves—in particular, the conflation of identity with sovereignty. At the same time, this fiction doesn’t simply reject earlier modes: one of its defining aesthetic features is a re-inhabitation of the central forms and politics of preceding waves, in order to complicate them. The central feature of the fourth generation of West Indian fiction, then, is a continued engagement with the region’s history of colonization, slavery, and decolonization that is also marked by critical and self-reflexive engagements with the Caribbean literary tradition.

Article

Postcolonial Media Theory  

Juan Llamas-Rodriguez and Viviane Saglier

The postcolonial intellectual tradition has proved crucial to articulating cultural, film, and media formations from the geographical and theoretical perspective of (formerly) colonized people and countries. The object of media studies has expanded significantly beyond the screen in the past decades, including a renewed attention to non-visual media and an emerging attention to the material conditions of possibility for media representations. In this new mediascape, postcolonial theories and concepts potentially repoliticize media theory by questioning Western assumptions about technological progress and innovation. Postcolonial theories of media force a rethink of the tenets of traditional media theories while, at the same time, media theories demonstrate the centrality of media, in all its forms, to understanding the postcolonial condition.

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Maya Youth Literatures in the Diaspora  

Floridalma Boj Lopez

Maya youth literatures in the diaspora are creative works of literature that defy easy categorization. Instead of focusing on form or genre, these works emphasize the refugee experience in relation to issues of state violence and migration in Guatemala and the United States. Mayan youth use do-it-yourself (DIY) publishing as a strategy to create narratives that embrace their experiences with their families and at schools, and in their efforts to create a Mayan community. As a result, these stories are reflective of not just their own experiences, but also their own political investments in how their Maya community is represented and written into existence.

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Radio and the (Re) Construction of Maya Identity in the Diaspora  

Alicia Ivonne Estrada

Founded in 2003 by Maya immigrants in Los Angeles, California, the radio program Contacto Ancestral, which airs weekly on the community station KPFK and online, creates a sense of community through the reaffirmation of indigenous cultural practices as well as the construction of a historical memory in the diaspora. This sense of community is particularly highlighted through the articulation of a Maya identity that is linked to indigenous hemispheric struggles and their resistance movements. Through the varied interviews with indigenous elders, activists, and community members on issues that range from the Guatemalan genocide, land, and environmental struggles to the multiple forms of violence faced by indigenous immigrants in the United States Contacto Ancestral creates, to use Ann Cvetkovich’s term, a “community-based archive.” This archive highlights a shared history between indigenous peoples as well as their differences and heterogeneity. In doing so, Contacto Ancestral produces an essential space to link and empower multiple generations of particularly Maya communities living in Mesoamerica, the diaspora, and elsewhere.

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Global Migration: Causes and Consequences  

Benjamin Helms and David Leblang

International migration is a multifaceted process with distinct stages and decision points. An initial decision to leave one’s country of birth may be made by the individual or the family unit, and this decision may reflect a desire to reconnect with friends and family who have already moved abroad, a need to diversify the family’s access to financial capital, a demand to increase wages, or a belief that conditions abroad will provide social and/or political benefits not available in the homeland. Once the individual has decided to move abroad, the next decision is the choice of destination. Standard explanations of destination choice have focused on the physical costs associated with moving—moving shorter distances is often less expensive than moving to a destination farther away; these explanations have recently been modified to include other social, political, familial, and cultural dimensions as part of the transaction cost associated with migrating. Arrival in a host country does not mean that an émigré’s relationship with their homeland is over. Migrant networks are an engine of global economic integration—expatriates help expand trade and investment flows, they transmit skills and knowledge back to their homelands, and they remit financial and human capital. Aware of the value of their external populations, home countries have developed a range of policies that enable them to “harness” their diasporas.