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Unfinished Migrations: Reflections on the African Diaspora and the Making of the Modern World

  • Tiffany Ruby Patterson and Robin D. G. Kelley

This article engages the very definition/meaning of diaspora as a concept at a moment when scholars are rushing to embrace the field of diaspora studies. Much of the current discussion continues to suggest that diaspora is merely a logical manifestation of dispersion, no matter how the diaspora was created or how long it had been in existence. This essay argues that linkages that tie the diaspora together must be articulated and are not inevitable, and that the diaspora is both process and condition. As a process it is always in the making, and as condition it is situated within global race and gender hierarchies. However, just as the diaspora is made, it can be unmade, and thus scholars must explore the moments of its unmaking. Indeed, the efforts to unravel the constituent elements of the diaspora(s) raise significant questions concerning how Africa is conceptualized in relation to its diaspora. These efforts also underscore the need to examine overlapping diasporas from many historical locations.


Cet article explore la définition et le sens même de diaspora en tant que concept à un moment où les chercheurs se pressent tous pour embrasser le domaine des études sur les diasporas. Une grande part des débats actuels continue à suggérer que la diaspora est tout simplement une manifestation logique de la dispersion, qu'importe la manière dont cette diaspora ait été créée ou depuis combien de temps elle existe. Cet article tente de démontrer que les relations qui lient la diaspora doivent s'articuler et ne sont pas inévitables, et que la diaspora est à la fois processus et condition. En tant que processus, elle est sans arrêt en cours de formation, et en tant que condition, elle se situe à l'intérieur des hiérarchies globales de race et de sexe (ou “gender”). Cependant, tout comme la diaspora est faite, elle peut être défaite et les chercheurs doivent ainsi examiner les moments de son démantèlement. En effet, les efforts faits pour discerner les éléments constitutifs de la ou des diasporas soulèvent des questions importantes sur la façon dont l'Afrique est conceptualisée relativement à sa diaspora. Ces efforts mettent également en évidence le besoin d'examiner les diasporas en situation d'intersection provenant de nombreux emplacements dans l'histoire.

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African Studies Review
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