“Defining and Studying the Modern African Diaspora” by Colin Palmer (Reading Notes)
“Defining and Studying the Modern African Diaspora” by Colin Palmer (Reading Notes) HIST 005
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Erika Ladd on Wednesday September 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIST 005 at Howard University taught by Neil Vaz in Spring 2015. Since its upload, it has received 2 views. For similar materials see Intro to Black Diaspora 1 in History at Howard University.
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Date Created: 09/14/16
• The first African diaspora was a consequence of the great movement within and outside of Africa that began about 100,000 years ago. To study early humankind is, in effect, to study this diaspora. • The second major diasporic steam began about 3,000 B.C.E with the movement of the Bantu-speaking peoples from what is now roughly the contemporary nations of Nigeria and Cameroon to other parts of the continent and to the Indian Ocean. • The third major stream (loosely a trading diaspora) involved the movement of traders, merchants, slaves, soldiers, and others to parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia beginning around the fifth century B.C.E. This resulted in the creation of communities of various sizes comprised of peoples of African descent in India, Portugal, Spain, the Italian city states, and elsewhere in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia long before Columbus went to the Atlantic. • The fourth major African diasporic stream and the one that is most widely studied today is associated with the Atlantic trade in African slaves. This trade, which began in earnest in the fifteenth century, may have delivered as many as 200,000 Africans to various European societies and eleven to twelve million to the Americas over time. • The fifth major stream began during the nineteenth century after slavery’s demise in the Americas and continues to our own times. It is characterized by the movement of peoples among, and resettlement in, various societies. • It is these diasporic streams—or movements of specific peoples to several societies—together with the communities that they contracted that form a diaspora. The construction of a diaspora, then, is an organic process involving movement from an ancestral land, settlement in new lands, and sometimes renewed movement and resettlement elsewhere. • While diasporas involve the movement of a particular people to several places at once, or over time, a migration is usually of a more limited scope and duration and is, essentially, the movement of individuals from one point to another within a polity or outside of it. • Members of a diaspora share an emotional attachment to their ancestral land, are cognizant of their dispersal and, if conditions warrant, their oppression and alienation in the countries in which they reside. They also tend to possess a sense of “racial”, ethnic, or religious identity that transcends geographic boundaries, share broad cultural similarities, and sometimes articulate a desire to return to their original homeland. • In the authors opinion, the study of the modern African diaspora should begin with the study of Africa. He thinks that it must be recognized that the peoples who left Africa and their ethnic group, coerced, or otherwise, brought their cultures, ideas, and worldview with them as well. He believes that the study of the African diaspora, particularly the aspect of it that is associated with the Atlantic slave trade, cannot be justifiably separated from the study of the home continent. • North American scholars are usually tempted to impose patterns that reflect their own experiences upon other areas of the diaspora. They also should make a distinction between studying the trajectory of a people and the trajectory of the nation state that they live in. Scholars not only have to examine how a people realized themselves over time in specific contexts but how they began the task of constructing nation states as well. • “Black Atlantic” is a synonym for the modern African diaspora. This excludes societies such as this those in the Indian Ocean that are not a part of the Atlantic basin, but there are fundamental differences in the historical experiences of the peoples of the North Atlantic and the South Atlantic and within these zones as well. “Plantation America” was used not too long ago to characterize the peoples of African descent in the Americas, in contrast to those who were called Euro- Americans and Indo-Americans. • The term “Africology" is now being embraced by some to mean the study of the peoples of African descent also suggests a kind of “racial” or ethnic essentialism that should be questioned. • The point that author emphasizes is that new fields require new methodologies and it is unacceptable for scholars to see the modern African diaspora as a replica of other diasporas or as black American, black British, or Caribbean history writ large. Scholars should;t define themselves as diaspora specialists if their area is confined to one society or a small corner of that society.
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