A diaspora is the spread or dispersion of people in a geographical position different from their homeland. That is, it is the involuntary dispersion of a population from its indigenous territory to a different place. For example, the expulsion of the Jewish people from Judea to different parts of the world and the flight of the Greek after the fall of Constantinople. There are different types of diaspora depending on the causes. Some of the main causes of such dispersion or spread include labor or trade migration, imperialism and social coherence within the community.
Origin and use of the term “diaspora”
The word “diaspora” is coined by a Greek verb which translates to “I scatter” or “I spread about”. Thus, in ancient Greece, it meant “dispersion” and was used in reference to the dominant citizens of the city-states who settled in a land conquered with the intention of colonizing the earth and assimilating it into an empire. However, the use of the term began to develop following the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek and is mentioned for the first time in the Septuagint. For example, it is used in Deuteronomy 28: 25 and Psalm 147: 2. After the translation of the Bible into Greek, the word was used to refer to those exiled from Israel in the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians and the Jews who were exiled from the Southern Kingdom by Babylonians.
In English, when the first after the word is capitalized (diaspora), the term is used to refer to the Jewish diaspora. When they are not capitalized, the term is used to refer to refugees or the immigrant population who live far from their homeland. The word was widely assimilated in English in the mid-1950s, with expatriates and other professionals working and living far from their homeland called the diaspora.
Diaspora in numbers
In the last half century, the population of the diaspora has more than tripled, from around 75 million to over 230 million according to the Diaspora Alliance. About 3% of the world population lives far from home. It is interesting to note that if migrants formed a single nation, it would be the 5th largest nation in the world. The United States is home to the largest diaspora population. Over 60 million live in the country as immigrants. European history is characterized by events similar to the diaspora. Trade and colonization have been responsible for the migration of Europeans to different parts of the world. Although some of them have been assimilated and made the country where they have established themselves as their home, others still have a great attachment to their original homes.
The internal diaspora is made up of people who have moved from their original position to another place, but within the same territory or country. For example, in the United States, over 4 million people have moved from their state of origin to other states in 2010. In mainland China, millions of people have moved from their original homes to seek opportunities in the country’s coastal metropolises.
The contribution of the diaspora
Many people in the diaspora are involved in significant and profitable activities and are achieving greater impacts in matters related to their countries of origin. They make a vital but often unrecognized contribution to the growth of their original homeland. Their return to the country of origin is one of the main contributions to the economy. They also help create a solid business partnership with the host country, which leads to access to the global market.