How Diasporic Peoples Maintain Their Identity in Multicultural Societies. Chinese, Africans , and Jews

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This work critically assesses two contemporary approaches to multiculturalism and examines the relationship between diasporas and more sessile communities.


“Norman Vasu explores in rich detail how the term diaspora has been and can be deployed to explain an ever present but now gradually more important feature of world society.” - Prof. Howard WilliamsUniversity of Wales, Aberystwyth

“Not only does [the work] question conventional understandings of multiculturalism and diaspora, it also offers new approaches in their conceptualisation and linkages in ways thus far largely ignored in their separate fields of enquiry in cultural and postcolonial studies and political theory.” – Prof. Ah-Eng Lai, Institute of Policy Studies, Singapore

“By convincingly showing that all societies are by and large multicultural and through a thorough analysis of the diasporic history of the Jews, Africans and Chinese in multicultural societies, Vasu uncovers valuable lessons for a deeper and more satisfactory form of multiculturalism. Written in a very readable style, this book is of value to both academics engaged with the multidisciplinary topic of multiculturalism as well as to policy practitioners who have to contend with the difficult task of formulating polices to maintain harmonious inter-communal relations.” - Prof. Kumar Ramakrishna S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore

Table of Contents

Foreword by Professor Howard Williams
Chapter One
1.1 Methodology
1.2 Justification for the Choice of Episodes
1.3 Structure
Chapter Two
2.1 Multiculturalism: A Review
2.1.1 Four Stages of the Debate on Multiculturalism
2.1.2 Multiculturalism: A Summary
2.2 Conceptualising Identity
2.2.1 Two Conception of Identity: Essentialism and Variation
2.2.2 Identity as Variation: The difficulties posed for Liberalism 1 and 2
2.3 Introducing Diasporas
2.3.1 Reasons for the Proliferation of Diasporas
2.3.2 Understandings of Diaspora within IR
2.4 Concluding Remarks
Chapter Three:
3.1 Analysing the Borders of Diaspora
3.1.1 The Conventional Nationalist Narrative
3.1.2 Autochthonous Claims of Tribe
3.1.3 Conventional Understandings of Migration
3.1.4 Radical Cosmopolitanism
3.2 Contemporary Theorising on Diasporas
3.2.1 Diasporas of the Checklist: Seeking an ‘Ideal’ Diaspora
3.2.2 Diasporas as a Typology
3.2.3 Diaspora as a Condition
3.3 An Alternative Characterisation of Diaspora: A New Addition to a Crowded Constellation
3.4 Concluding Remarks
Chapter Four:
4.1 Representing Diaspora: The Overseas Chinese of the Novel
4.1.1 Timothy Mo’s Sour Sweet
4.1.2 Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club
4.2 Contemporary Conceptualisations of the Chinese Overseas
4.2.1 Approach 1: The Chinese Overseas of the Media and Popular Texts
4.2.2 Approach 2: Historical Roots, Myths and Language of Chinese Identity
4.2.3 Approach 3: The Triangular Relationship of Host, Home and Chinese Overseas in Identity Formation
4.3 Understanding the Chinese Diaspora – from Diaspora to Diasporic
4.4 Concluding Remarks
Chapter Five:
5.1 Origins and Extent of Dispersal
5.1.1 Forced Dispersion: Slavery
5.1.2 Free Movement: Free Africans during the Period of Slavery
5.2 Whitewashing African Worth: The Stigmatisation of Africans and Africa
5.3 Diasporic African Identity: Negritude, Afrocentrism and Double Consciousness
5.3.1 Identity as an Unchanging Essence
5.3.2 Identity as Dynamic
5.4 The Relationship Between the Diasporic African Experience and Home
5.5 Concluding Remarks
Chapter Six:
6.1 Jewish Identity: Ethnicity, Judaism and a Condition
6.1.1 Jewish-ness as Ethnicity
6.1.2 Jewish-ness as Judaism
6.1.3 Jewish-ness as a Condition
6.2 The Nature of Home: Zionism, Territorialism and the Bund
6.2.1 Zionism
6.2.2 Alternatives to Zionism
6.3 The Diasporic Jews and Multiculturalism
6.3.1 The Jews of Ancient Times
6.3.2 The Jews of the Middle Ages
6.3.3 Jews of the Modern Era
6.4 Concluding Remarks
Chapter Seven:
7.1 The Failings of Liberalism 1 and 2
7.2 The Wider Implications of the Book: The Future of Multiculturalism
7.3 Final remarks

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