Patterson and Kelly argue that the bonds that hold the diaspora should be articulated, they emphasis that the diaspora encompasses both process and condition. As a process it is continuously reinvented and as a condition it is located within racial and gender structures of the society. However they argue that the diaspora can be unmade the same way it was made, hence the need for students to critically investigate the process of its unmaking. As efforts are made to understand the principle elements of the African diaspora, it has raise important questions about how Africa should be viewed in comparison to its diaspora.
Diaspora as a process and condition
The term diaspora was coined from the Greek and Jewish cultures. In Greek he word diaspora basically means dispersal, although it has been conveniently used by the Jewish culture to refer to the spread of the Jews to the west. In the African context it has biblical roots, the book of psalms 68:31 has been frequently cited by the religious clergy in reference to the Ethiopian people placing their faith in god. This view has been used in metamorphic way to symbolize black activism against racism, colonialism and political injustices. It is clear that the diaspora is very different from a nation although it is mainly viewed as being associated with African immigrants. They do not share a common language but seem to be bound by a common myth of ancestry or origin and most of the diaspora view themselves as an oppressed lot, away from their homeland and strongly view the African continent as their future destination or home (Patterson & Kelly, pp.13-15).
Perhaps the most basic principle of study and still unclear concept in the study of the African diaspora is the question how African are the new generation of black people living in the diaspora. This question was first posed by the early anthropologist who began the study of the diaspora; some of them argued that some characteristics of the African culture still exist among the new world diaspora. Recent research has suggested that there is need to understand the African culture from a holistic perspective; view African culture from ethnic, cultural identity, political and religious perspectives (Patterson & Kelly, pp.16-17).
It was previously viewed that the African diaspora were bound by common culture but this is not the case. The African diaspora were united by historical political injustices. The diaspora derives its identity from historical and sociocultural constituted and reconstituted ideologies that are constantly changing. Communities are not formed in the basis of color, or history of how people spread from one location to the other, nor by past shared common experiences such as slavery or racism. However, it is out of these factors that the African diaspora came to derive their common identity. Cultural identities are formed by common shared cultural values and historical experiences that supersede the test of time (i.e. will always exist in their current form without changing) and are used as a framework for references. Patterson and Kelly argue that theses were the key principle that drove the anticolonial and pan Africanist revolutions however; they proved to be fundamentally counter hegemonic to the values and beliefs that constituted the diaspora movement (Patterson & Kelly, p. 19).
The term diaspora has mostly been used to conceal the differences and discontinuities among individuals. The ideology of the diaspora has been constructed from individual experiences and then developed in to metaphors of discrimination and alienation and other various relationships. This has tended to erase all the differences in ideology of specific cultures in an effort to encompass all of them in the metaphor (Patterson & Kelly, p.20).
It is argued that color does not and can not constitute ethnicity because, color can not be fixed nor remain the same. Ethnicity is a dynamic phenomenon in reaction to and in response to socioeconomic and sociopolitical conditions. In Brazil race was defined by continuously evolving demographic and regional differences. Race was divided in to two the blacks and the mulattos. The main factors that defined ethnic identity included extent of acculturation, traditional and religious beliefs, place of birth, religious and political beliefs and education, profession and income status. The complicated dynamics of identity formulation and change in demographics paved way to regional differences in the quest for social and political balance (Patterson & Kelly, p.23).
During the beginning of the 21st century, the world was characterized by massive migration, migration of labor, rush to industrialization and civil unrest all in reaction to the First World War, national revolution movements and harsh climatic conditions. During this era a lot of anticolonial movements sprung up in Africa. As a result of these revolutions many people migrated to the United States. By changing the perspective from which the African diaspora is viewed, attention is shifted to how the diaspora sees the world, Africa and how global history can be written from different perspectives. There is need to shift from unitary narratives of dispersal, intimidation and nation creation that focus on European development and the birth of capitalism (Patterson & Kelly, pp.29-31).
The concepts of the African diaspora can not be understood from a unitary perspective, it involves a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses all aspects of life and history. Just as the diaspora was formed through complex ideologies, so is the journey to understand the history of the diaspora.
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