WHAT IS DIASPORA?
Diaspora is an age-old word rooted in the ancient Greek term, “diasperien” (dia – ‘across’ and sperien – ‘to sow or scatter seeds’ or scatter about). The application of diaspora became a commonly used term in association with the Jewish dispersion resulting from the fall of Jerusalem in ancient history. Throughout history, “diaspora” became increasingly associated to other cultural groups in the context of displacement from origin homelands – i.e., Armenians, Africans, Basques, Chinese, Native Americans, Japanese, Bosnians, Ukrainians, and many others.
One classification of diaspora, derived from the specific causes that displaced peoples, identified four core categories: victim diaspora, migratory diaspora, ideological or religious diaspora and imperial diaspora. Today, the term “diaspora” has spread into other classifications. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world wish to leave their homelands for multiple well-founded reasons. Their hope and struggles for a new life often parallel the motivations that influenced the European pilgrims to leave their own homelands. For people like refugees, freedom, seeking safety for their children, escaping persecution and war become a matter of life and death. The tragic journeys of people who were forcibly removed from their homelands are no longer an occurrence of the past as evident in some parts around the world today.