Day 25 Diaspora

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Information about Day 25 Diaspora

Published on March 25, 2008

Author: AscotEdu


Becoming Strangers: Travel, Trust, and the Everyday:  Becoming Strangers: Travel, Trust, and the Everyday Day 25: Diaspora Beginning Again: What Is a Map?:  Beginning Again: What Is a Map? Cartographers differentiate between three distinct but related conceptual tools that we tend to lump together under the term “map”: PLAT. A graphical representation that clarifies ownership. CHART. A graphical representation that indicates how to get from one place to another. MAP. A graphical representation that codifies a worldview and conveys its ordering principles. Beginning Again Again: D+G = PolySci:  Beginning Again Again: D+G = PolySci Deleuze and Guattari are not thinking about the nation-state when discussing “the state.” By “state” they have in mind the totality of socioeconomic, governmental, military, and cultural entities that constitutes what we might today refer to as the “world system” or “global capitalism.” Another pair of thinkers, Hardt and Negri, have recently & influentially revived D+G’s arguments. Instead of “state” they use the term “empire.” Why D+G? The Cold War’s Over:  Why D+G? The Cold War’s Over Mid-20th Century: Are We Them?:  Mid-20th Century: Are We Them? The absolute distinction between 1st and 2nd world nations blurs after 1950. The poet Allen Ginsberg demonizes all governmental authority as “Moloch” in Howl (1956), the best-selling poem of the 20th century. In 1961 during his farewell address, Pres. Eisenhower warns against the “military-industrial complex.” The New World Order:  The New World Order The fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1992) ended the “bipolarity” that dominated world politics after the Russian Revolution (1917). In the resulting “multipolar” system nation states appeared weak when compared to “global capitalism,” the technology-abetted flows of money & information & people across all national borders. The Challenge to the Humanities:  The Challenge to the Humanities The humanities have traditionally been divided up along nation-state lines. The contemporary university retains these divisions: “English literature,” “French history,” “Mexican art.” D+G—and other thinkers—and history!—show us that we can’t think that way anymore. We are in danger of missing the big picture—the functioning of Empire in general. Worse. We might have been wrong all along. Turn to a New Unit of Analysis: The Diaspora:  Turn to a New Unit of Analysis: The Diaspora DIASPORA. Greek for “dispersion” or “scattering.” Originally used to refer to those Jews who live outside of their ancestral homeland of Palestine. Subsequently used to refer to any people “scattered” across national boundaries who do not physically inhabit the territory or nation-state of their or their ancestors’ origin. The “Armenian diaspora,” for example, would include all people of Armenian descent living outside of that part of Central Asia traditionally called Armenia. Defining Diaspora:  Defining Diaspora Diasporas are difficult to define. Who should be included? Everyone who self-identifies as “Jewish,” “Armenian,” etc? Do adoptees count? Do “assimilated” people count? What about the slipperiness of identity categories? Is there an “Asian diaspora” in the U.S.? If according to Chinese definitions, anyone of Chinese descent is Chinese, can one speak of a “diaspora”? And if one can isolate a “diaspora” – what is it, exactly, that one is studying? A culture? A nation? A race? A collection of . . . stories? Consider the Original Diaspora: The Jews:  Consider the Original Diaspora: The Jews We discussed before the Exodus, the journey through the wilderness led by Moses from Egypt to the “Promised Land” of Palestine. The Exodus serves as a story of the creation of a people (and a nation state): we were Pharoah’s slaves, then we entered a middle world, now we are remade as a free people with a land that is ours. The early kings made Jerusalem the governmental center of this new state. Solomon built the chief Jewish temple there ca. 957 BCE and during the 7th century BCE King Josiah makes the Jerusalem temple the exclusive and only temple. The Babylonian Captivity:  The Babylonian Captivity Nebuchadnezzar II conquers Judah in 597 BCE and forcibly removes thousands of Jews to the city of Babylon. In 586 he destroys Jerusalem and razes the Temple. During the next decades, every revolt in Judah is followed by further large scale deportations. In 538, Cyrus the Great allows the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild their Temple. Aftermath of the Babylonian Captivity:  Aftermath of the Babylonian Captivity Before 586 BCE, Judaism was a state religion centered on Jerusalem. A priestly caste performed elaborate ritual sacrifices at a temple that had been built by a king. From 597 to 538 there was no Judah. From 586 to 515 there was no temple. Judaism changed fundamentally. The focus shifted from a place—the Jerusalem Temple—and its associated hierarchy to a sense of collective responsibility for remembering the past and participating in a living tradition. The focus shifted to preserving texts (Scripture and commentary); a language (Hebrew); and communal ties. Educated elders (later called “rabbis”) supplanted priests, and meeting halls (later known by the Greek word “synagogues”) supplanted the Temple as the crucial sites for the creation & maintenance of identity. Post-Captivity Judaism:  Post-Captivity Judaism 515 BCE to 70 CE. A very large number of Jews remained in Babylon. Jewish scholars wrestled with how to distinguish the religious duties of “diasporic” Jews and those who lived in Judah. 70 CE to 1948 CE. After a rebellion, the Romans razed the Second Temple. For two millennia, Jews were a “diasporic” people with no homeland. Two narratives—the Exodus and the Babylonian Captivity—served as guides to the long “middle world” of being a people with no place. The poetic name for Jerusalem—Zion (one of the 2 hills on which the city is built) – became shorthand for the future utopian place where the diaspora could gather again. Another Diaspora: The African Diaspora:  Another Diaspora: The African Diaspora The African Diaspora:  The African Diaspora Unlike most diasporas, the African diaspora does not originate from a particular nation. The Middle Passage was intended to strip people of their former identities. They lost their goods, their families, their names, and even their languages. People who had been through the Middle Passage, though, managed to pass along stories and music. And they shared them with other peoples of African descent. The result was a creative, hybrid, though long underground culture. Jazz, for example, “appeared” in New Orleans in the early 20th century long after it had been invented and perfected by slaves who spent their free time drumming with each other in public squares. The Black Atlantic:  The Black Atlantic In the 1990s, scholars began to realize that they couldn’t study, say, African American culture in isolation. People of African descent in Europe, North, and South America had long thought of themselves as sharing a history and culture. Musical innovations—jazz, blues, dub, samba, reggae, calypso, bosso nova, rap, go-go, etc—have moved freely between the West Indies, the US, Brazil, the UK, etc. So too have novels, poetry, political polemics, and autobiography. Scholars realized that they had to begin thinking in “transnational” terms about “The Black Atlantic” if they were ever to understand some of the most important cultural innovations of the last 100+ years. Defining Diaspora: Middle Passage as a Starting Point:  Defining Diaspora: Middle Passage as a Starting Point Robert Johnson (1911-1938) is known as the greatest blues guitarist. In “Crossroads Blues,” Johnson plays with the old belief that crossroads are dangerous “middle worlds” where chance encounters & collisions occur. He was said to have met Satan at a crossroads and sold his soul for the ability to play the guitar like no one else. Identity begins at a crossing—selfhood is founded on travel and “hybridity.” Defining Diaspora: Stealing from the Master:  Defining Diaspora: Stealing from the Master Bob Marley (1945-1981) grew up in & out of the slums of West Kingston, Jamaica. During the 1970s he became the best-known reggae artists in the world. His song “Exodus” employs a biblical vocabulary (Babylon, tribulation, Father’s land) to advocate an uprising of African peoples against the white colonial powers. Defining Diaspora: Remembering Where You’ve Been:  Defining Diaspora: Remembering Where You’ve Been In the late 1980s, the rap collective Arrested Development was inspired by Public Enemy to use music as a vehicle for serious political and intellectual commentary. The rise of West Coast gangsta rap in the early 1990s eclipsed such “cerebral” New York rap. Songs such as “Tennessee” (1992) though are worth remembering as statements about the need to revisit and re-sample the past, however painful or embarrassing, if one is to understand the present.

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