Middle Eastern minorities in diaspora

Authored by: Andreas Schmoller

Routledge Handbook of Minorities in the Middle East

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138649040
eBook ISBN: 9781315626031
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter looks at diasporas of Middle Eastern minorities in two senses that directly correlate with the meaning one can attribute to the concept of diaspora. 1 First our interest lies in the different groups that have migrated at some point to settle in one of the four corners of the Earth and therefore can be seen as community by sheer ancestry, whatever might be their degree of assimilation and attachment to the homeland. This means looking at diaspora in “substantialist terms as a bounded entity,” which admittedly is problematic, first, because it confronts us with the whole problematic of homogenizing identities, and second, because it deprives us of diaspora as an analytical category in the study of a defined social and cultural life form. 2 Nonetheless, this first use of the concept allows us to collect some valuable historical information about migration movements of most of the Middle Eastern minorities for orientation. Furthermore, we have to acknowledge that the substantialist take on diaspora is also important for those diaspora activists who seek to increase their symbolic capital by emphasizing large membership numbers. Numbers are a political weapon, and we should give a critical thought about them.

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