This lecture engages with the the diaspora concept -- and with diaspora literature from the African diaspora.
Diaspora might evoke travel, migration, nomadism. But, crucially, it is ‘push factors’ that are central to its definition: they include forced migration, displacement, slavery, pogroms, genocide, famine, political persecution and war are reasons for the translocation of entire populations (Clifford, 1994; Gilroy, 1994). Add to this James Clifford's (1994) suggestion that ‘the term diaspora is a signifier, not simply of transnationality and movement, but of political struggles to define the local, as distinctive of community, in historical contexts of displacement’.
African Diaspora literatures reflect and promote connections between cultural origins and present locations; they mediate different social and cultural groups and relate to the formation of community; they reach back to distinct historical moments; they remember departures and arrivals – and what came before, after, and in between. They draw on collective memory, they add to it, and in the process revise, rewrite, and transmit memory; from one generation to the next; and from one location to another. This lecture course, then, explores African diaspora literatures from several contexts, including the UK, the Caribbean, Canada, and the US.