Diaspora as translation and decolonisation

Author: Ipek Demir

This book proposes a novel way of conceptualising diaspora by examining how diasporas do translation and decolonisation. It critically engages with, and goes beyond, two dominant theorisations of diaspora, which are coined ‘diaspora as an ideal-type approach’ and ‘diaspora as hybridity approach’. If diaspora is to have analytical purchase, it should illuminate a specific angle of migration or migrancy. The aspect defended in this book is how diasporas do translation and decolonisation.

The book explores such issues by conceiving of diasporas as the archetypal translators, who put new identities, perspectives and ideologies into circulation. They can domesticate, rewrite, erase and foreignise. They bring disruptions and destabilisations. The book examines such processes by advancing a variety of useful conceptual tools and heuristic devices for investigating diasporas, such as ‘diaspora as rewriting and transformation’, ‘diaspora as erasure and exclusion’, ‘diaspora as a tension between foreignisation and domestication’, ‘radical inclusion’ and ‘radical remembering’, with a specific focus on and examples of diasporas in the Global North. It also provides a detailed empirical study of Kurdish diaspora in Europe and unpacks how ethno-political translations of their identity are central for the transnational battles of Kurds, including how they undo colonisation, carrying out both foreignisations and domestications in their engagements with the Global North, and exposing links between their predicament and Europe. Additionally, the book considers the backlash to diasporas of colour in the Global North through an examination of the increasing discourses of ‘anti-multiculturalism’ and ‘the left-behind’/‘traditional’ working class.

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