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The weak and the powerful: a longue-durée and comprehensive perspective on diasporas

Les faibles et les puissants – une perspective globale et de longue durée sur les diasporas
Dirk Hoerder
p. 30-49

Résumés

L’article examine le cas type de la diaspora juive sans État en se demandant pourquoi un puissant peuple dispersé comme les Romains n’est pas analysé en tant que diaspora. Est-ce que des populations, ayant établi des institutions de contrôle très loin du cœur mythique de leur lieu d’origine – Rome en Italie dans ce cas ‒ en imposant leur pouvoir, ne forment pas une diaspora ? D’autres groupes ethniques, professionnels ou religieux ont établi des liens diasporiques : les Normands, hommes et femmes de foi chrétienne, les commerçants de l’Océan indien, tout comme depuis le milieu du xve siècle les « Chinois » du Sud-Est asiatique. L’approche souligne que des spécificités socio-économiques plutôt qu’ethnoculturelles, provenant d’implantations particulières, forment des communautés translocales plutôt que transnationales et qui s’engagent dans des transformations culturelles tout au long de leurs parcours.

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  • 1 Patricia Madoo Lengermann and Jill Niebrugge-Brantley, The Women Founders: Sociology and Social The (...)
  • 2 Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People ( (...)
  • 3 Khachig Tölölyan, “Rethinking Diaspora(s): Stateless Power in the Transnational Moment”, Diaspora, (...)

1Looking at migrants in terms of “diaspora” instead of “ethnic group” involves a radical change of perspectives and interpretations. With the emergence of migration research and “ethnic studies” from the late 19th century to the field’s burgeoning from the 1970s onwards, the narrow discursive or ideological frame of sedentary populations with national identities resulted in an equally narrow view of emigrants (or immigrants) as moving from nation to ethnic enclave. Those moving, and in the view of conservative contemporaries betraying their nation, were viewed as a problem: “in limbo” between two societies; or, in terms of the frequently cited–but empirically weak–U.S. authors of the Chicago School1 and Oscar Handlin2, they were “disorganized” or “uprooted”. Given this nation-centered frame of reference, it is no surprise that the term and concept of “diaspora” received little attention. Mobile people in a diasporic setting move along known and well-travelled routes between well-connected and dispersed communities which remember or actually have a physical geographic and/or spiritual center. In contrast to this analytical approach, Jewish men and women, who dispersed, have been referred to as rootless, permanent wanderers and as a special race. Application of the “diaspora” label to them implied a seemingly self-evident negative undertone. Reflection on the term resulted in the addition of “the ancient Greeks” to the terminology, involving however a positive connotation of a Hellenistic sphere. Then, in 1990, a scholar of Armenian background, Khachig Tölölyan, launched the journal Diaspora (Oxford University Press) – an implicitly self-reflective step since Armenians have lived as a diaspora for a long time. It is a well established but lesser known diaspora which is less segregated than its Jewish counterpart and less active in scholarly self-reflection3.

2This state of affairs, which prevailed two and a half decades ago, invites a number of questions: Why has one specific religio-cultural, as opposed to an ethno-or race-cultural, group been assigned a special label? Why have two related interpretations of mobility –, diasporic dispersal and one-directional e/immigration – not been related to each other and theorized as variations of the same phenomenon? In the present, when Filipino sailors and Filipina care workers spread diaspora-like across the globe, as Polish and Italian migrants had done so for a century, reflection on conceptualizing “diaspora” has begun but has remained subdued in the polyphony of scholarly approaches that have developed as regards to migration.

3In this essay I critically examine the model case of the Jewish diaspora. I will then ask, why a people constructed as both weak and forcefully dispersed has been labelled diasporic in contrast to a powerful people like “the” Romans who dispersed and annexed the Eastern Mediterranean social spaces (including its Jewish-settled segment) while spreading themselves thinly around all of the Mediterranean (as well as north of the dividing Alpine ridge). Do people who establish institutions of rule far from their core and mythical place of origin, in this case Rome, and who impose their power not form diasporas? Are diasporas stateless? I will then turn to the Vikings, Normans, and Varangians, who spread widely but have not been analyzed in terms of diaspora: Do the three different names, assigned to people from the same region of origin, prevent an integrative historiography? Similarly, if we return to the migration/dispersal of people of Jewish faith across the Mediterranean world and northward as well as eastward to the Indian Ocean area: why are men and women of Christian faith, the so-called “Syrians” who migrated at the same time, or the Arab and Gujarati merchants of other faiths, missing from analyses of diasporas? Why are – with a shift in time to the second millennium – the Southeast Asian “Chinese” not studied parallel to the 14th-century Jews? Those generically labelled as “Chinese” were locally defined since they came from a few port cities and nearby villages in South China. “Locally defined” means locally socialized. Instead of representing one “Chinese” diaspora, the migrants need to be viewed as specific socio-economic groups from specific locations – translocal rather than transnational communities. This issue of generic peoples defined by faith or ethnicity, and the actual migrants and their local origins, as well as their cultural transformations along the routes and over time will be addressed in the conclusion.

Reflections: One Jewish diaspora or many migrations, adjustments, and conversions?

  • 4 This section is based on classical syntheses and document editions. Haim H. Ben-Sasson (ed.), A His (...)
  • 5 Yves Lequin, ed., La mosaïque France: histoire des étrangers et de l’immigration (Paris, 1988), rev (...)
  • 6 Alexandre Skirda, La traite des slaves. L’esclavage des Blancs du viiie au xviiie siècle (Paris, 20 (...)
  • 7 Peter B. Golden, Haggai Ben-Shammai, András Róna-Tas (eds.), The World of the Khazars. New Perspect (...)
  • 8 Dirk Hoerder, “Trade – Migration – Travel – Cultural Transfer in the East Slavic-Russian Macro-Regi (...)
  • 9 Angus MacKay, Spain in the Middle Ages: From Frontier to Empire, 1000-1500 (London, 1977), p. 79-94
  • 10 Under the incursion of “Puritan” Muslims into Iberia, Jewish intellectuals had to flee. An example (...)
  • 11 Bernard Lewis, Cultures in Conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of Discovery (Oxford, (...)

4After the uprising of Jewish men and women against the then recently imposed Roman rule, and especially against the privatization of commonly held “God-given” land, had been quelled, an out-migration began that was subsequently called exodus, flight, or dispersal. To move from legend to data, those departing need to be analyzed in sociological terms. Few families making their living as agriculturalists left. The poorest – as always – had no means to move and many urban coreligionists stayed. Those departing had to make a living and they established themselves as artisans, merchants or, given the high intellectual development, as scholars and religious sages. Like all migrants departing, Jewish families had to carry or transfer their possessions: small cultivators cannot carry their land whereas craftsmen and scholars can carry their expertise while mercantile families can relocate their networks4. By the 9th century some 90 percent of the migrants lived in the Muslim Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates (c. 660-1100). As “protected persons” of another religion who were subject to a head tax they could move and pursue their vocations freely. Small numbers moved westward along the Mediterranean and traded and settled in the Rhone River valley and in the interior of what would become France. Parallel moved “Syrian Christians”, who were men and women of a variant of the Christian faith from the same region of origin.5 In Carolingian times, one group, the Rhadanites, managed the slave trade from the Slavic regions, via Regensburg and alpine passes or via Verdun and the Rhone valley, to Muslim Iberia.6 In the East, where the exchange nodes of the East-West/ West-East trade were located, as well as in the transit region north of the Black Sea, the elites of Khazar society converted to Judaism.7 Traders of Jewish religion, jointly with many others, had for centuries been part of Persian and Arab northbound trade to Scandinavia along the Dnepr and Volga rivers.8 Among the migrants a distinct or, from the orthodox rabbis’ view, separatist or dissident group known as the Kharaïtes emerged in either 7th-century Egypt or 8th-century Baghdad. Given Muslim expansion and its liberal stance toward other religions as well as its own high level of scholarship, families of Jewish faith migrated to Iberia where they formed communities (the Sephardim) with their own language and social practices.9 They would be expelled in 1492-1496 by the Catholic rulers to subsequently form dynamic refugee communities in North African cities10 and in the Ottoman lands.11 The rulers of the latter invited them due to their high human and social capital as well as for their trading connections. Those who moved by land into southeastern and western Europe or via the Rhone to the Rhine valley and Cologne became a further group with a distinct dialect close to medieval German. Once persecuted and expelled under the increasing Latin Christian hostility, these so-called Ashkenazim migrated eastward often invited by rulers in need of an urban craft and trading population.

  • 12 Harry C. Schnur, “Jüdische Ehe und Familie im Mittelalter”, in Willy van Hoecke and Andries Welkenh (...)
  • 13 Quoted in Ben-Sasson, Jewish People, p. 463; note the expected time lag of one generation in the ac (...)

5In light of this diversity, the label “Jewish diaspora” creates numerous conceptual problems: specific socio-cultural groups departed whilst others remained. These high-standing migrants transferred Judaism’s religious-intellectual center from Jerusalem to Baghdad with other centers in Cordoba and Cairo. Furthermore, groups of people converted and joined the communities of the migrants’ descendants. Given the culturally and linguistically diverse host societies, a diversified range of Jewish communities of different languages and everyday practices emerged in most parts of Europe, North Africa, and segments of Asia. The paths these well-educated men and women travelled,12 all the while extending their networks, were trading routes. Since, like all other migrants, they had to earn their living, they used their geographical links and trading knowledge – a core socialization of urban people in the cities of ancient “Syria”. Less well-endowed co-religionists settled along the routes as small traders, feeder or distribution lines in modern parlance, or as artisans supplying both the religio-cultural community and their neighbors of other faiths. Hebrew served as a unifying language for the religious savants of the different variants of the religion, as well as for the scholars who were multi-lingual and wrote in (Muslim) Arabic and (Christian) Latin and other languages. As a result linguistic diversification did not undercut the communication between segments of the diaspora and specific localities. Unity and diversity were braided. According to learned advice around 1300 CE, migrants should “closely observe the established burghers” so that their children could blend in with established society even if marriage practices remained endogamous.13

6The “diaspora” emerging from this analysis of the empirical data is different from both the ascription of a unified Jewry across the world (usually denigrated by the ascription) and the self-constructed view of Jewish intellectuals as constituting one Jewish diaspora united in suffering that began with dispersal from Palestine and continued with pogroms and expulsions. Much of the diversified diaspora’s history/ies over the two millennia constitutes a success story or, perhaps better, a sum of many success stories. However, an ever growing poor, even extremely poor, underclass also emerged in the diasporic macro-communities as was the case with the East Central and East European 19th-century Ashkenazim. Since the diaspora was (and continues to be) composed of many everyday practices and languages it might be called – to use modern concepts – a rainbow diaspora.

7In the context of this argument, and in keeping with the theme of this issue of Diasporas, it deserves to be mentioned that similar diasporas existed: the Armenians were dislocated in part by Persian rulers and possessed their own variant of Christianity and an autocephalous Church; the Hausa merchants spread along their trade routes; and the Chinese migrants and traders Chinese in Southeast Asia were labeled derogatorily as “the Jews of the East”. Trading diasporas with long-distance connections and a shared frame of an internally diversified religion were numerous. The implications of the nationalist Zionist return of the twentieth century as well as the fascist-holocaust-induced flight to Palestine and the establishment of the territorial state of Israel are also worth further research. The Palestinians became a new community of displaced people who have either been cramped into camps or the West Bank and Gaza settlements or who have moved globally in a diasporic community of Palestinian families made up of intellectuals and businesspeople.

Empire and Diaspora: How do ruling groups interconnect over vast spaces?

  • 14 The timeline of the study of diasporas might well be extended further into the past: the mercantile (...)
  • 15 References to this diaspora suffer from a culturalist bias – Hellenisms as a Greek-inspired culture (...)
  • 16 Donna R. Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas (London, 2000); Donna R. Gabaccia and Fraser Ottanelli (e (...)

8One central aspect of diasporic existence has been said to be “statelessness”. But this is a problem-laden definition. Does, from the establishment of the state of Israel, the “Jewish diaspora” need to be renamed? When diasporic Hellenism emerged,14 the ancient Greek city-states still existed and the macro-regional and imperial, if brief, rule of Alexander, called “the Great”, had a major influence on its spread.15 And, in modern usage, the term – Polish, Scottish, Italian, German diasporas – refers to states of origin.16 Furthermore, the study of diasporas has been Mediterranean or Atlantic centered. The many trading diasporas in the Indian Ocean World have usually not been mentioned (see below).

9The postulate of statelessness or of weak states leads to a massive bias. It excludes migrants from empires and other powerful states who moved with state backing and established rule over others. To exclude these from analyses of “diasporic” existence is not only a conceptual non sequitur but is heavily ideo-logically loaded since it supports claims to power by positing presence. In this view, the power-imposing migrants are not dispersed but are part of an overarching institution whether empire, military state, or religion. This view posits that mobile administrators and soldiers who impose rule are not migrants. Their historians, in fact, had the power to frame historical memory and (im-)print their view of history: the conquering powerful belonged, the longtime residents were mere conquered peoples. Later historians have simply echoed this view of the powerful. Historical atlases show the expansion of the Roman Empire as vast areas covered by rule rather than by migrations: the flight of people threatened by conquest and the mass migration of federated soldiers into the armies is not apparent. However, when peoples with less complex institutions began to move a different picture emerges. For instance, in the case of the people’s migrations of the Germanic “tribes” maps are full of arrows indicating movement.

  • 17 These might be labelled “Romans proper”, i.e. Italian-born men and women, in distinction to those w (...)
  • 18 Similarly, in the 8th century Muslim migrant-soldiers living in the Iberian societies remained in c (...)

10The Roman rulers who quelled the Jewish struggle for self-determination (“rebellion” in the language of the rulers) around 70 C.E. were migrants; those who rebelled were the residents. Roman expansion, once it extended beyond the Apennine Peninsula, involved military officers with troops composed of ever more cultural groups, and administrations of Roman prefects with a limited number of Roman personnel spread thinly over the whole Mediterranean littoral as well as throughout the Danubian and Gallic provinces.17 Given the issues of cost, personnel, and culture, this tiny immigrant administrative elite cooperated with resident elites who secured their position through their acquiescence and participation. Like diasporic merchants who relied on local suppliers and producers, the administrative newcomers needed to rely on local elites’ understanding of the annexed region’s laws, customs, and languages. They remained connected to the core by thin lines of communication and a shared belief in empire. This “imperial apparatus” never covered the incorporated territories blanket-like as an undifferentiating birds-eye view would suggest. Rather it consisted of nodes of rule and urban culture thereby resembling other diasporic communities. The military aspect of this diasporic spread, usually rendered as widely dispersed “Roman” camps along a limes or a river like the Danube, is far more complicated. From the early decades (certainly no later) of the Common Era, the legions were many-cultured. Camps in Egypt, for example, had Celtic legionnaires and Syrians were stationed at both the Rhine River and Hadrian’s wall in the north of England. These soldiers remained in contact with their regions of origin and, once allowed to marry, included their fami-lies. Upon their return, they carried back cultural knowledges and material goods.18 The “Roman” military presence, with its interconnected centers and camps of rule, consisted of many localized and often overlapping and interacting diasporas.

  • 19 The people of the province of Noricum, of Celtic culture.

11In the Roman Empire local customs remained in place, local languages continued to be spoken in everyday life, and imperial religion mixed with local gods and goddesses. “Empire” in this incarnation has been analyzed in terms of a federation of semi-autonomous provinces or of self-governing cities with a center in the capital city, a uniform overlay of legal codes (in contrast to everyday ones), and a program of urbanization. If the designation “empire” is replaced by “Roman presence” among (annexed) peoples of other cultures, the diasporic aspect immediately comes to the fore. The frequently emphasized Roman roads were the lines of communication to the center and to other diasporic nodes. As with the Jewish diasporic communities from Africa to Iberia and the Rhine or elsewhere each of the Roman centers evidenced dynamics and cultures of its own. The Gallic, Noric19, Syrian, African and other “Romans”, socialized in and dispatched from the center (as well as communicating with it), nevertheless followed different amalgams of religions and different dress codes. Both “Jewish” and “Roman” were statements of identification and belonging rather than culturally essentialist designations.

  • 20 The renaming of the relocated empire as “East Rome” or “Byzantium” was an interest-driven invention (...)
  • 21 At the time this religion had many variants. In its accession to power it lost its communal charact (...)
  • 22 This interpretation is based on Dirk Hoerder, ‚Kelten‘ und ‚Römer‘, 500 v.u.Z.-500 u.Z.: Romanisier (...)

12This “diasporic approach to empires,” as it might be called, permits a more sophisticated analysis and comparison. As in the case of the Jewish intellectual core’s relocation from Jerusalem to Baghdad, Rome’s center of gravity shifted from Italy to the eastern Mediterranean where far more material amenities were available and where intellectual life was more intense. In a first step, Roman ruling families changed to African-Syrian culture and a new emphasis on the Sun as God when the Severus family acceded to the throne from the 190s C.E. on. Next, an emperor shifted the capital city from Rome to Byzantium/ Constantinople in the 330s. The cultural changes and relocations notwithstanding, the “Roman Empire” and its institutions showed continuity20 – with one exception: an emerging religious diaspora, also originating in Palestine, came to enter the imperial institutions and the empire became Christian.21 The vast Empire’s armies and ruling personnel had become many-cultured with a diaspora-like system of communication between top and intermediate provincial elites living in a conglomerate of societies/ cultures. “Roman” became a kind of brand-name.22

13The deeply engrained juxtaposition of coherent “empire” and dispersed “diaspora” and the associated implications of “powerful” vs. “weak” posit a hierarchy that is empirically untenable. Both involved high levels of mobility and need to be analyzed as two ends of a spectrum composed of formal and informal networks. The informal but not ephemeral mercantile networks of the Jewish and many other diasporas, being adaptable, lasted longer than the overlay of structures imposed by any state or imperial center. A reconceptualization would differentiate mercantile and administrative diasporas, carefully include aspects of cultures and religions and discuss substrata of less influential migrants within the diaspora, whether artisans and small-scale traders or the Roman Empire’s legionnaires-as-artisans and their trading-supplying network.

14Such an approach would also facilitate an understanding of the above-mentioned spread of Christianity in regions under Roman rule until the religion became hegemonic and could, empire-like, impose its beliefs. Individuals of a particular religion migrated across the extent of the imperial realm and established diasporic connections that outlasted the political existence of the western segment of the increasingly segmented polity. These migrants expanded from diaspora, persecuted like the Jewish one, to a ruling faith with a near-totalitarian institutionalized regime. The group, like the political-imperial one, had its own historians who established their power to control historical memory. Their deeply engrained retrospective and one-sided interpretation depicts Christianity as having spread like a blanket in a copy of the Roman empire. Maps in historical atlases indicate as much as early as the fourth century. In fact, at this time only between five and ten percent of the imperial realm’s inhabitants were Christians.

  • 23 The Atlas historique. L’histoire du monde en 334 cartes, sous la direction de Georges Duby (Paris, (...)

15The concept of “diaspora”, detached from its single-lane connection to Jewish and statelessness, allows us to deconstruct relationships of power, empire, and institutionalization – as well as the historical master narrative which the victors’ ideologues and institution-centered historians established.23

16This approach may easily be transposed to subsequent empires. Fifteen centuries later, across the British empire, administrators formed an interconnected diaspora that spread far from their state of birth. They moved across vast spaces and self-segregated from local and larger societies such as in Calcutta, India. For imperial-administrative migrants of this kind the decision to migrate was usually taken by the central administration of their state rather than by the individuals themselves. Once abroad, they tended to cling to a construction of Britishness and clustered in their small communities. Even if they lived in luxury, as was often the case, they felt deprived of their “home” culture. In the British case, a particularly vast array of novels and travel writings has dealt with the minds and emotions of the dispersed administrators. Historians, in contrast, have neglected the many imperial-diasporic actors as individuals and looked at “empire” as one whole. Recently, Subaltern Studies scholars have begun to take the perspective of those who had to work for the men of the imperial diaspora. These were often men who thought they could run an empire but could not run their own household and who read the London newspapers rather than attempting to understand the society they were charged to rule. In this respect, a comparative approach to imperial diasporas would offer insight: Roman administrators engaged with the “provincials” and adapted and learned. They could thus be more adaptable and dynamic.

A little-remembered diaspora: Nordic peoples’ trans-European migrations

  • 24 Some of these moved by land routes either through France to the French-Mediterranean ports or via R (...)

17At the same time as men and women of many cultures but of the same Christian faith – if in multiple variants –moved from an abundantly resourced Palestine, men and women from Scandinavia departed from an agriculturally impoverished landscape. The long shorelines of the Scandinavian region had encouraged the development of a high level of nautical skills. The understanding of these out-migrations as an integral multi-directional whole has been fragmented by a scholarship specialized according to region of destination: “Vikings” sailed along Western Europe’s coasts (as well as in the north to Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland or New-Found-Land); “Varangians” moved across lakes and rivers deep into Eastern Europe; and Normans conquered Normandy and the isles later called “British.” These moves could be interpreted in terms of the establishment of ethnic enclaves or realms of rule separate from each other. However, the migrants’ seafaring ways, their evident interest in the wealth of others, and their need for jobs led to further moves. In this way, the Varangians continued to Constantinople, those from the British Isles and Normandy24 moved on to Sicily and Palestine and, from there, to Constantinople where these west-south moving Scandinavians met with their east-southbound co-ethnics. Communication networks connected the migrants along routes that were mainly waterways and via occupations consisting of – in addition to mariners – aggressive waterborne soldiery, state-builders, and soldiers in distant armies. After Varangian men had begun to serve in the East Roman rulers’ armies, underemployed or disgruntled Normans in England learned about the labor demand and moved to take jobs in this labor market segment in Constantinople.

18In this case, migration and diasporic dispersal followed two distinct routes, a western and an eastern arc which connected in the Mediterranean and in Constantinople in particular. Localities of origin ranged from Scandinavia’s Arctic to its Baltic littorals and included the Jutland and Baltic Sea islands. The easy-to-travel waterways permitted communication and a contemporary oral “historiography” spread the memory. In the Nordic societies “sagas” provided an oral tradition which was created and circulated among the comparatively wealthy rural and town inhabitants and passed “down” to their dependents – or corrected by them since they had often sailed with their masters. In these societies historic memory was thus a creation of a broad social stratum rather than being a gatekeeper-invented master narrative paid for by the respective interested ruler. In societies with written records, these narratives were seldom accessible to common people and therefore remained unamended from below.

  • 25 Whether these troops came with “train”, i.e. with women and children and service personnel, is not (...)
  • 26 Based on Hoerder, “Trade – Migration – Travel – Cultural Transfer” (forthcoming 2015). Simon Frankl (...)

19Men and women from several local societies in the Baltic region, with high ship-building skills, sailed eastbound through the Gulf of Finland and up the Narva, Neva, and Daugava rivers to Lake Peipus and Lake Ladoga where they founded trading nodes in the 7th century. From there they connected southward across lakes, rivers, and portages via an eastern route, down the Volga River to the Persian and Arab realms as long-distance-merchants. In the Caspian Sea’s ports they interacted with merchants from West Central Asia’s Samarkand, Isfahan, and Sogdian cities – the western terminals of the trans-Asian “silk route” caravans as well as those from the Indian Ocean’s littorals. Along a second, western route, following the Dnepr, “Varangians” settled (rather than traded) and established rule over the resident Slavic-speaking populations. Two centuries and several intermingling generations later, from their capital Kiev the “Rus’” began armed forays to, as well as trading connections with, the Roman Empire in its Byzantine version. Varangian-Rus’ merchants arrived every spring and camped during the summer before Constantinople’s gates. In the 980s the Kievan Prince Vladimir supported Basileios II (976-1025) against a revolt of large landowners. His army of some 6,000 men,25 originally from Sweden, had helped him to regain his throne following which the men needed a task as well as wages. After quelling the landowners’ revolt, they remained in the East Roman emperor’s service as Varangian Družina or Palace Guard.26

  • 27 The introduction of primogeniture and intermarriage of the conqueror families’ younger sons and dau (...)
  • 28 Lucien Musset, “L’aristocratie normande au xie siècle”, in Philippe Contamine (ed.), La noblesse au (...)

20Others sailed from Scandinavia in a westerly southbound route through the North Sea. Nobles with their dependents, some discontented with a reorganization of their home societies, settled as invaders and state-builders along the continent’s shores: in mid-10th-century in northwestern France (“Normandy”), England and Wales, and in Sicily and southern Italy from 1103 to 1194. They imposed their rule – far less oppressive than that of their Varangian co-ethnics – over local populations and merged with or replaced local nobilities. Sequential migrations of adventurers and settlers who intermarried locally and accepted local languages resulted in new populations and cultures. As rulers they improved political structures by reforming traditional systems of taxation and administration and by reducing the burdens of the peasantry. While the communication lines to societies of origin remained intact and a memory of a common ancestry was present, these armed migrants – like the Varangians in Kiev – did not form “classic” diasporic communities. Instead, through mingling with local subdued societies, in a process of ethnogenesis they became a new people.27 The process involved both colonizing and diasporic aspects.28

  • 29 A voluminous older literature – often with an undertone of men’s “heroic exploits” – has dealt with (...)

21From these new military and population bases, some Normans sailed further southward and into the Mediterranean. In Sicily, at first a stopover on the way to the Holy Land, they took control of the Muslim society and established the kingdom of Sicily in 1072. Arab-Islamic and Scandinavian interaction and cultural conversion transformed local practices. From the 11th century, these “Mediterranean Normans” were augmented by military migrants from England, sometimes called “refugees” because they were discontent with the rule established in 1066. Most of them travelled on to Constantinople to join the Palace Guard or the army. Byzantium’s generically-called “Normans” thus came from among the Varangian-Rus’, from among descendants of Norman migrants-immigrants in Sicily, and from recent Anglo-Norman emigrants. Some of the latter, using the diasporic information and travel networks, may even have arrived earlier since, on one occasion in the first half of the 10th century, the Palace Guard proposed its good wishes to the emperor in English (“enklinisti”). Mention of Constantinople in Icelandic sagas demonstrates that the northwest-trans-European and trans-Mediterranean connections entered popular memory.29

  • 30 The trading networks from Scandinavia and Jutland to England and the cities along the Rhine, not di (...)

22In this case, elements of the concept of “diaspora” help to understand and integrate the multiple migrations of the men and women from the nordic Baltic societies. But the migrants’ establishment of communities did not resemble those of the mercantile(-religious) diasporas30 or those of the imperial-administrative examples. The diasporic settlements became realms of rule with an intermingling with the resident populations of different cultures even if in hierarchical settings. The migrants heading for Constantinople’s diasporic community were limited – and limited themselves – to the single labor market segment of military service, particularly in the well-paid and renowned palace guard. Still, to call them a “military diaspora” would be too narrow since they settled and built communities. The findings also indicate how diaspora formation is inseparably connected to other forms of migration – colonization schemes and labor market insertion.

Diasporas in the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asian, and southern Chinese societies31

  • 31 This section is based on Dirk Hoerder, “Crossing the Waters: Historic Developments and Periodizatio (...)
  • 32 Engseng Ho, The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean (Berkeley, 2006).
  • 33 Kirti N. Chaudhuri, Asia before Europe. Economy and Civilization of the Indian Ocean from the Rise (...)
  • 34 Such arrangements were common along many sea routes. Foreign merchants in Muslim Arab port cities s (...)
  • 35 From the East African coastal commercial centers, in which numerous diasporic Asian and Arab mercha (...)

23Diasporas of traders emerged in many parts of the world. Once mariners had succeeded in decoding the patterns of the monsoon winds, they had established networks along the littorals of the Indian Ocean and the Southeast Asian seas. From the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula Hadhrami merchants established trading connections to, and settlements, in regions with tradable merchandise from the 2nd millennium BC.32 Centuries later, Gujarati merchants in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent made their living as trade intermediaries between Africa, Arabia, the Eastern Mediterranean, and India’s Malabar and Coromandel Coast ports.33 In the port cities merchant cultural communities lived clustered in their own quarters under their own rules, using their own language, and following their particular religious beliefs. Authorities of the respective state merely regulated practices of exchange and intervened in cases of disputes between foreigners and residents.34 In these arrangements, the diaspora was defined by occupation. This mercantile diaspora (resembling the Jewish case) was usually internally differentiated by culture-of-origin but accorded legal-administrative status as one “foreign” trader community rather than as multiple distinct ethno- or religio-cultural communities.35

  • 36 Louise Levathes, When China Ruled the Seas. The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433 (New (...)

24The complex bureaucracy of the Chinese Empire with its well-developed record-keeping provides information on the communities of traders and travelers (or of Buddhist monks) spread throughout the Empire, each with its own network of communication, exchange of personnel, cultural practices, and interaction with “the Chinese” (i.e. the many-cultured subjects of the respective emperor). From the Empire, as a legal-institutional entity, no imperially recognized diaspora emerged. Given its size and productivity, outward-bound external contacts across the seas were unnecessary. However, from the early 15th century, the Court, for political reasons (raison d’état), sent out vast naval expeditions as far as Aden and East African ports. The fleets under the command of admiral Zheng He carried up to 28,000 people and were self-supplying. The diplomatic mission consisted of spreading knowledge about China as the Empire of the Middle. However in the mid 1430s the Court’s conservative faction decided to end this external diplomacy for fear of “foreign” influences.36 The seven expeditions between 1405 and 1433 had connected to existing overseas traders from mainly southern (Fujian) ports living in port cities in Southeast Asia.

  • 37 Teobaldo Filesi, China and Africa in the Middle Ages, transl. D.L. Morison (London, 1972); Michael (...)

25At first, China’s long-distance trade had been mediated by colonies of foreign merchants – 120,000 were said to live in Guangzhou (Canton) in 878 C.E. – but after the start of the 11th century Chinese merchants and shipbuilders increasingly participated. Their small trading diasporas along the sea-lanes initially consisted of sojourners, whose duration of stay was governed by the length of the monsoon periods, and subsequently permanent residents. Long-term “head guests,” for example in Siam under the Ayuthia dynasty (1350-1767), expected deference from short-term co-residents and, before returning home, often brought in younger “new guests” who remained bound to them by debt and the advanced cost of passage. Chain migrations established kinship communities. When the Ming dynasty, with the end of the naval expeditions, curtailed overseas trade after 1433, merchants furtively formed permanent diasporic communities in Malacca, Manila, and Batavia, and traded with all of the Southeast Asian World, Nanyang in Chinese. Westward, their involvement in the Indian Ocean trade extended to East African ports where small communities were created.37

  • 38 See Dirk Hoerder and Amarjit Kaur (eds.), Proletarian and Gendered Mass Migrations: A Global Perspe (...)

26Again the question arises: What kind of diaspora or diasporas emerged? First of all, this “Chinese” diaspora was not at all generically Chinese but originated in the ports and their hinterlands of the two southern provinces. They were distant from the imperial center and its officials and also had their own regional version of the Chinese language. This contained variants that differed between port cities (“Cantonese”) and even between rural villages from which transport laborers and artisans were recruited. Thus, applying the name of the Empire, “Chinese”, to the diaspora is problematic. Secondly, migration was mostly male and, after the (monsoon) seasons’ sojourning phase, communities emerged for multi-annual or permanent settlement. Since men wanted the company of women and since artisanal production required couples or family units, the migrants formed lasting partnerships with local women, “secondary families” in cases where they had left the “first family” in their community of origin. Thus long-distance connections, language, and production were southern Chinese while the children were socialized towards their mothers’ culture. A genuinely mixed diasporic community emerged, varying – again as in the Jewish case – by culture of insertion. Only wealthy merchants could afford to migrate with their family and they increased the diasporic community and its ties to the culture of origin by bringing in servants, warehouse workers, craftsmen, and other dependents. To raise and educate their children in home-culture (rather than generic Chinese-culture) ways of life they hired nannies from Guangdong or Fujian cities, so-called amahs who developed their own travelling and job-market networks and might be said to have formed a “sub-diaspora” within the larger southern Chinese diasporic communities.38 This Southeast Asian “Chinese diaspora” was “stateless” since the Empire did not permit either emigration or foreign trade and did not protect its subjects abroad. In the Spanish colonial period, the Manila “Chinese” extended their mercantile contacts across the Pacific to Spanish America and, like all trading diasporas, seized opportunities as they occurred. The Empire and the diaspora were two distinct, if closely related, entities.

27These cases add to the spectrum of diasporas: they were primarily seaborne and thus movement could be fast. Merchants formed communities in the port cities that were expanded by artisans and, occasionally, by the later addition of wives and children. As regards the aspect of commerce these widely linked communities resembled the Jewish diaspora and, in fact, connected with it since the Rhadanite merchants traveled the sea routes of the Indian Ocean and to the China Seas. They were stateless in the sense that no state backed them but in port cities their quarters had rights of self-administration and they endured far less discrimination than Jews in the West European ghettos. Such wide-ranging connections have been studied under the concept of “trade emporia.” This approach emphasizes the impact of capital investment and collective trading rather than the cultural capital and networking of the mercantile migrants. A diaspora-approach keeps human agency in view and the many migrants who moved with only their human capital.

Translocal long-distance connectivity: processual geographies and transcultural communities

28The study of diaspora has always posited widely dispersed places of settlement and community formation. However, as was noted at the start of this article, this paradigm has focused on weak and stateless cultural groups in the case of Jews (thereby overlooking the influential Jewish savants in the Mediterranean world and beyond) or, in the case of Hellenism, the spread of a high or, better, urban culture without specifying the human agents in the process. By challenging the assumptions behind the traditional designation of only these specific groups as diasporic, this article has firstly developed a more comprehensive understanding of diasporas and the concomitant characteristics involved. In the process, and most significantly, state-sent powerful administrative (and military) ruling networks and their widely dispersed actors have been included. The administrators were and are, of course, also a cultural group which proved to be adaptable in the case of “the” Romans. The similar though much later case of “the” British suggested, on the other hand, an enclave-building, self-separating network. This brings power back into the analysis. Secondly, by freeing ourselves from a Mediterranean-centeredness, this analysis has pointed to the global extent of (overlapping) diasporas. In this concluding section, I will connect the emphasis on local interconnected communities (always clear in diaspora studies) with the recent recasting of emigration-immigration history from state-to-state – Germany-to-the-United States or Italy-to-Somalia – to region-to-region or even to the level of localities or glocal migrations. The neologism “glocal” was traditionally associated with diasporas.

  • 39 Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch, Cristina Blanc-Szanton (eds.), Towards a Transnational Perspectiv (...)
  • 40 The following discussion is limited to scholarship in the Atlantic world since, for linguistic reas (...)
  • 41 Randolph S. Bourne, “Trans-National America”, Atlantic Monthly, 118 (1916), p. 86-97; Horace M. Kal (...)
  • 42 Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves. A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization, (...)
  • 43 Fernando Ortiz, “Del fenómeno de la transculturación y su importancia en Cuba”, Revista Bimestre Cu (...)
  • 44 Everett C. Hughes, “The Study of Ethnic Relations”, Dalhousie Review, 27 (1948), p. 477-482, and E. (...)

29Over time, the study of the Jewish diaspora may well have had an impact on traditional nation-to-ethnic-enclave interpretations of migration, i.e. from China to Chinatowns or from Italy to Little Italy. However, nation-socialized historians confined migrants to an essentialized national identity: bounded ethnic groups. As late as the 1990s, three anthropologists undercut the reification of international borders by introducing the paradigm of transnational lives.39 Reflecting what many researchers had been describing without ever theorizing cross-border moves, the concept was quickly and widely adopted. This conceptual innovation was, on closer observation however, a reintroduction. In fact, from the 1910s numerous scholars in several countries40 had proposed alternatives to nation-state-centered approaches and, in their conceptualizations, had gone beyond the trans-“national” which keeps the nation at the core of the interpretation. In the U.S., at the height of the “Americanization” projects, two scholars developed the term “transnationality” and a concept of plural societies in the 1917 and the 1920s respectively41. In Brazil, Gilberto Freyre analyzed the multiple African and European origins of the country’s society and theorized that societies emerge from many cultural influences.42 In Cuba, Fernando Ortiz went further by conceptualizing the process of “transculturation” in which Native Peoples, Africans, Chinese, and Europeans had merged into one society framed by the plantation economy.43 And in bi-cultural Canada, Everett Hughes and Helen MacGill Hughes had noted that in no society did in-migrants ever face one single homogeneous society or nation.44 Although Freyre’s and Ortiz’s Portuguese and Spanish language studies were available in English by the end of the 1940s, the core of the White Atlantic academic community refused to take note of any of these approaches and remained welded to the “disorganized and uprooted immigrants” view of society whilst considering the Jewish experience separately. Given public opinion and politicians’ attitudes such narratives were more readily accepted.

  • 45 Dirk Hoerder, “To Know Our Many Selves”: From the Study of Canada to Canadian Studies (Edmonton, 20 (...)
  • 46 Dirk Hoerder, “Transnational – transregional – translocal: transcultural”, in Carlos Vargas-Silva ( (...)

30Reorientation began in Canadian scholarship where, in the context of the debate about a bi-cultural and bi-lingual society in the 1960s, “the ethnics” demanded – and were accorded – inclusion into the master narrative. In response, as well as in continuity, to several earlier open-minded studies of immigrant acculturation, Canadian interdisciplinary scholarship posited ethno-cultural interactions rather than closed groups, porous borders rather than dividing lines, and researched continuing connections to the respective culture of origin as well as the stepwise adjustment to the receiving society. Though focused on immigrants this might have been a diaspora-studies approach.45 Canadian – and subsequently other – scholars increasingly realized that migrant men and women did not move as generic nationals but with a socialization in a particular region and locality. They did not move “transnationally” but – as Ortiz had argued half a century earlier – transculturally. They did not carry national identities (in blood or genes or, for that matter, minds) but identifications that could be adapted and changed.46

31At this point research on flexible diasporas and on immigrant groups with permeable borders coalesce: Life in a diaspora – whether religious, commercial, military or other – interpreted as “outside” of a state, nation, or “nation-state” (a concept of the late 19th century) of birth or ancestry, and often sweepingly labeled “Jewish” or “Chinese”, needs to analyzed differentiated by locality of origin and locality of acculturation as well as by class/social status and gender. Migrants depart from a particular social group and a specific local society – urban Jews, southern Chinese of urban or of peasant background – and they acculturate according to the customs and options of a specific destination: Sephardic Jews in Toledo, Spain, as one segment of Sephardim as a whole, a group which, in turn, is only one part of the whole Jewish diaspora; Manila Chinese, internally highly differentiated by socio-economic status, as one of many Southeast-Asian disasporic Chinese communities. In addition, of course, all of these fluid groups are gendered.

32The human potential and ways of life of both migrant men and women thus need to be studied in terms of their socialization in a specific locality and stratum of society. Migrant diasporic “Greeks” carried different cultural practices depending on: whether they originated in Athens or in Thessaloniki; their standing and occupation of their family of birth – mariners transmit different everyday practices than do merchants or artisans; their gender; and the stage of their life-cycle when they moved. “Hellenism” was a conglomerate of cultural practices. So was Jewish, Roman, or Norman diasporic life. Similarly the location of arrival and insertion determined options, choices, and adaptations. Syrians and Jews in the Rhone Valley adapted to cultures different from those reaching Venice or Cologne.

33Once the connections between the local social spaces of socialization and acculturation, or in cases of “compound” settlement the quarter, funduq, Hof, or ghetto, have been analyzed, the options in the respective region need to be studied in equal detail. In terms of both cost and funds of knowledge, potential migrants usually explore easily accessible places first. Traditionally these have been assumed to be near-by places. However, access options or space-of-options expand for potential migrants living close to a river or sea-port given the low cost of water-borne travel. This has been an important factor for those migrating in the Mediterranean world, Indian Ocean, or China Seas. In contrast the space-of-options may be restricted by convention, for example by gender, when “a society”, i.e. the male segment of a society, imposes travel restrictions on women.

34At the next level, regions are circumscribed by job options compatible with the capabilities of potential migrants – they need to be able to earn their living fairly soon after arriving – and by similar ways of life which facilitate acculturation as well as by language or dialect which facilitate communication. Migration within the Ashkenazi or Sephardic diaspora was common, moves between the two unusual. Intellectual exchange, mediated through Hebrew, connected this segmented diaspora. “Regions” are only partially determined by physical features: mountains may impede and rivers facilitate travel. Regions, at the core, are socio-economic spaces in terms of life projects. Migrant men and women chose options that permit survival or, better, material security.

  • 47 Usability of the term “pioneer migrant” has been severely limited by the U.S. mythology of “pioneer (...)

35Potential migrants evaluate their range of options in terms of destination, whether in relation to a spatially concentrated ethnic area or dispersed diasporic ones, and in respect of accessibility when it comes to their own and their community’s knowledge. Local-regional spaces of departure and arrival are connected by: information flows, the prerequisite for a migration decision; connecting routes facilitating or, at least, permitting travel; and settled migrants’ backward linkages to family and community, loved ones and friends. Unless they are the very first to select a destination not previously targeted by kin and friends, migrants47 select spaces in which a community of their culture or, more precisely, a community in the process of acculturation exists. This could be composed of co-ethnics, co-religionists, and/or “co-professionals” – merchants, artisans, and laborers. Once routes have been established, connectivity increases – or decreases when conditions at the destination deteriorate. If routes are easy to travel and a “migratory” or “diasporic” discourse emerges, selection of destinations is, on the one hand, narrowed to the known, and, on the other hand, expanded by distance traversed and ease of departure. All of these “new” insights of the dichotomous emigration-immigration historiography were part of the definition and study of diasporas.

36Neither state nor nation has so far been included into this discussion of approaches. This third, supra-regional level was distant to the locality of childhood socialization or community-formation. Until statewide educational systems were established, states had little impact and, as regards to belonging, nations needed to be invented – as happened in the 19th-century. Belonging and embeddedness as well as dialect and customs were local-regional. Even once established, state and nation impacted on children as future potential migrants only from the life-cycle stage of adolescence. Turning from the individual to an institutional perspective, (dynastic) rulers or states have, over centuries and millennia, influenced or forced people to move. They have expelled certain groups – Jews, Huguenots, Catholics, people of different cultures – or encouraged in-migration when needing economically active subjects such as soldiers, experienced many-cultured and multi-lingual advisors, and laborers. They also shifted around prisoners of war and annexed populations, generally in a process of uprooting. On the whole, however, states, as an institutional and power set-up, and nations, as a grown or constructed cultural entity, enter into analyses only after the basic surrounding, the local and the regional have been studied. In the case of the Jewish community, displacement could result: from deportation (Babylon and Egypt); from a pogrom in a specific place, as in the German-language macro-region; from a mandated dynastic realm-wide expulsion, as in the case of the England and Spain; from commercial connections in the Mediterranean world; or from a decision based on creating new options.

  • 48 Katia M. de Queiros Mattoso, To Be Slave in Brazil, 1550-1880 (4th ed.; New Brunswick, 1994); Steph (...)
  • 49 Martin L. Kilson and Robert I. Rotberg (eds.), The African Diaspora. Interpretive Essays (Cambridge (...)

37Building a diaspora or an ethnic community requires agency. With few exceptions forcibly displaced migrants do not have this option. The deported prisoners-of-war, mentioned above are one case, slaves are another. Slave diasporas very rarely emerged and few ethnic communities could develop since slave-traders purposefully mixed their human commodity to prevent cultural coherence and, thus, collective action. Exceptions were the Angola-Brazil connection48 and free Africans or bound African-origin mariners in the Atlantic World.49

  • 50 Allen F. Roberts, “La ‘Géographie Processuelle’: Un nouveau paradigme pour les aires culturelles”, (...)

38To understand the spatial complexities of diasporic moves, Allen F. Roberts has discussed migrants’ locations as “spaces” in a “progression” of steps rather than in terms of fixed “territories.” Such “processual geographies” combine macro-region of origin as an ecumene with multiple ethnoscapes and smaller transculturalisms that translate into a network of spaces. His example, the Mourides from Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, who originated in Asia, follow Senegalese Islamic soufi beliefs, and live in places as distant as Los Angeles. The concept of “scapes” – the conceptual version of a social space – permits migrants to develop a flexible understanding of communities, families, and individuals in their several local, regional, state-wide, and global extensions. Such landscapes of migration, migrationscapes, vary over time according to changing economic, political, social, and religious options and restraints as well as according to composition of the migrant community and individual as well as collective aspirations. Diasporic geographies are flexible.50

  • 51 Dirk Hoerder, “Transnational – transregional – translocal: transcultural”, op. cit.

39Research on diasporas requires a transcultural approach and could provide a major impetus to the study of resident societies which, though fixed into nation-state borders, are transcultural polities whose inhabitants-citizens are part of processual geographies. States add – or subtract – groups, and emerge from métissage and translocal-transregional interactions. Research on migrants and on residents needs to be transculturally comprehensive.51

40The Jewish diaspora, our case of departure for this reconceptualization, was multi-local with spiritual, commercial, scholarly or imagined connectivity. Under the label of “Jewish”, they became a many-cultured, near-global highly differentiated network. The Chinese, in contrast, for centuries remained macro-regional in Southeast Asia but, given sea-lanes and comparatively short distances, could easily move back and forth – or decide to settle. Those with funds and urban backgrounds might select Manila as destination, while those with only their physical capability to labor opted for a mining location on the Malaysian peninsula. Both were non generic Jews or Chinese since they came from specific urban strata or from particular localities. The spread of Greek-Persian “Hellenism” over a wide region was by men and women of urban socialization. Greek peasants were hardly present as was the case with the Jewish example. “Chinese” peasants, on the other hand, moved as laborers though they could have entered small business with some savings. For religio-cultural reasons, the Indian diaspora, which is more aptly described as a many-cultured Indian Ocean-port cities diaspora, was urban and mercantile. Diasporic administrators, sent out by states or empires, often followed trading routes: the states intended to annex or exploit regions with resources – stateless migrants also looked for places with additional options, places where they might invest their human capital.

41This reconceptualization has emphasized new approaches on the basis of historic data rather than reviewing the increasingly differentiated theoretical approaches cited at the beginning. It needs to be emphasized that a large literary corpus – novels, short stories, poems and many other types of publications which have sometimes been referred to as post-colonial – that reflects on the experiences of migrants in the present has emerged in the last three decades. While these writings are beyond the scope of this essay, an engagement between the two ways of writing, belles lettres and scholarly, is highly desirable. Travel writings of the past, autobiographies, and exchanges of letters are the bridge between the two. In this way, creative migrant writing and creating diasporic identifications become inter-related phenomena.

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Notes

1 Patricia Madoo Lengermann and Jill Niebrugge-Brantley, The Women Founders: Sociology and Social Theory (New York, 1998 [new edition 2008]), pointed out that in distinction to the Chicago men, Robert E. Park in particular, women like Jane Addams were more open-minded towards immigrants.

2 Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People (Boston, 1951, revised edition 1973). For a critical assessment of this approach see Dirk Hoerder (ed.), “Reintroducing Early Transcultural Approaches: The Case of the Paradigmatic U.S. Scholarship in an Atlantic and Pacific Perspective” (forthcoming, Journal of Migration History 2015).

3 Khachig Tölölyan, “Rethinking Diaspora(s): Stateless Power in the Transnational Moment”, Diaspora, 5.1 (1996), p. 9-36. At about the same time appeared: Avtar Brah, Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities (London, 1996); Robin Cohen, Global Diasporas: An Introduction (Seattle, 1997); James Clifford, “Diasporas”, p. 244-277, in his Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge, Mass., 1997); and Floya Anthias, “Evaluating ‘Diaspora’: Beyond Ethnicity?”, Sociology, 32 (1998), p. 557-580. Diaspora (since 1991) has been the leading journal in the field and a “diasporic turn” has been postulated: Rogers Brubaker, “The ‘Diaspora’ Diaspora”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 28.1 (2005), p. 1-19; Lily Cho, “The Turn to Diaspora”, Topia, 17 (2007), p. 11-30. Khachig Tölöyan offered an assessment of the field’s development, “The Contemporary Discourse of Diaspora Studies”, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, 27.3 (2007), p. 647-655.

4 This section is based on classical syntheses and document editions. Haim H. Ben-Sasson (ed.), A History of the Jewish People (English transl., Cambridge, Mass., 1976), p. 385-560; Mark R. Cohen, Under Crescent and Cross: the Jews in the Middle Ages (Princeton, 1994); S.D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society: The Jewish Communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza, 5 vols. (Berkeley, 1967-88). The literature on the Jewish disaspora is legion. For an example of recent publications on the Middle Ages see Jonathan Elukin, Living Together, Living Apart: Rethinking Jewish-Christian Relations in the Middle Ages (Princeton, 2007), and Patricia E. Grieve, The Eve of Spain: Myths of Origins in the History of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Conflict (Baltimore, 2009). For the emergence of a diasporic discourse and identification see Daniel Boyarin and Jonathan Boyarin, “Diaspora: Generation and the Ground of Jewish Identity”, Critical Inquiry, 19.4 (1993), p. 693-725.

5 Yves Lequin, ed., La mosaïque France: histoire des étrangers et de l’immigration (Paris, 1988), revised under the title Histoire des étrangers et de l’immigration en France (Paris, 1992), p. 110-116. For commercial development as a whole see Michael McCormick, Origins of the European Economy. Communications and Commerce A.D.300-900 (Cambridge, 2001), esp. p. 237-277, 501-533.

6 Alexandre Skirda, La traite des slaves. L’esclavage des Blancs du viiie au xviiie siècle (Paris, 2010).

7 Peter B. Golden, Haggai Ben-Shammai, András Róna-Tas (eds.), The World of the Khazars. New Perspectives (Leiden, 2007); Johannes Preiser-Kapeller, „Ein jüdisches Großreich. Religion und Mission im Reich der Chasaren” [A Jewish Empire: Religion and Mission in the Empire of the Khazars], Working Paper, Graz 2010. http://www.academia.edu/699593/

8 Dirk Hoerder, “Trade – Migration – Travel – Cultural Transfer in the East Slavic-Russian Macro-Region: Concepts of Migration Research”, in Andrej Doronin (ed.), Medieval Russian Migrations (working title, forthcoming 2015); Virgil Ciocîltan, The Mongols and the Black Sea Trade in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century (Leiden, 2012), “Introduction”.

9 Angus MacKay, Spain in the Middle Ages: From Frontier to Empire, 1000-1500 (London, 1977), p. 79-94.

10 Under the incursion of “Puritan” Muslims into Iberia, Jewish intellectuals had to flee. An example of the distances and cultures traversed is the family of the savant Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) who first fled to Islamic Fez, Morocco, then to the inhospitable crusaders’ Palestine, and then to Muslim Egypt.

11 Bernard Lewis, Cultures in Conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of Discovery (Oxford, 1995).

12 Harry C. Schnur, “Jüdische Ehe und Familie im Mittelalter”, in Willy van Hoecke and Andries Welkenhuysen (eds.), Love and Marriage in the Twelfth Century (Leuven, 1981), p. 88-101: Women usually migrated with their husbands but could not be forced to move to a country with a different language (89).

13 Quoted in Ben-Sasson, Jewish People, p. 463; note the expected time lag of one generation in the acculturation process.

14 The timeline of the study of diasporas might well be extended further into the past: the mercantile communities established by Phoenicians and perhaps other Mediterranean merchants-seafarers would certainly qualify.

15 References to this diaspora suffer from a culturalist bias – Hellenisms as a Greek-inspired culture. However, Greek potters and other artisans, to cut out middlemen profits, migrated to Etruscan cities and continued the production of their well-selling products there. Many of the “Greek colonies” in Italy and as far as Massalia/ Marseille were settlements of seafarers and merchants. Thus this diaspora included producers and purveyors of material goods. The references also suffer from “ancient-Greece-centeredness” since “Hellenism” involved a fusion with Levantine and Persian material and spiritual culture.

16 Donna R. Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas (London, 2000); Donna R. Gabaccia and Fraser Ottanelli (eds.), Italian Workers of the World: Labor, Migration and the Making of Multi-Ethnic States (Urbana, 2001); Donna R. Gabaccia and Franca Iacovetta (eds.), Women, Gender, and Transnational Lives. Italian Workers of the World (Toronto, 2002); Adam Walaszek, “Labor Diasporas in Comparative Perspective: Polish and Italian Migrant Workers in the Atlantic World between the 1870s and the 1920s”, in Dirk Hoerder with Christiane Harzig, Adrian Shubert (eds.), The Historical Practice of Diversity: Transcultural Interactions from the Early Modern Mediterranean to the Postcolonial World (New York, 2003), p. 152-176; Dirk Hoerder, “The German-Language Diasporas. A Survey, Critique, and Interpretation”, Diaspora: a journal of transnational studies, 11.1 (Spring 2002), p. 7-44.

17 These might be labelled “Romans proper”, i.e. Italian-born men and women, in distinction to those who were Roman citizens but of different culture and born outside of Italy.

18 Similarly, in the 8th century Muslim migrant-soldiers living in the Iberian societies remained in contact with home communities in Syria-Palestine.

19 The people of the province of Noricum, of Celtic culture.

20 The renaming of the relocated empire as “East Rome” or “Byzantium” was an interest-driven invention of seventeenth-century scholars.

21 At the time this religion had many variants. In its accession to power it lost its communal character and became a state-church with institutionalized structures. Neither issue can be pursued here.

22 This interpretation is based on Dirk Hoerder, ‚Kelten‘ und ‚Römer‘, 500 v.u.Z.-500 u.Z.: Romanisierung, métissage, Keltisierung“ (unpublished ms., Fall 2013), relying on Eckhard Meyer-Zwiffelhoffer, Imperium Romanum. Geschichte der römischen Provinzen (7th ed., München, 2011).

23 The Atlas historique. L’histoire du monde en 334 cartes, sous la direction de Georges Duby (Paris, 1994), 35, differentiates between « régions comptant une forte proportion de chrétiens » and « régions où le christianisme est installé » but does not show the other, still majoritarian religions; the German Putzger. Historischer Weltatlas (104th ed., Berlin, 2011), 52, shows a blanket spread of Christianity.

24 Some of these moved by land routes either through France to the French-Mediterranean ports or via Rome to Italian ports. Dominik Waßenhoven, Skandinavier unterwegs in Europa (1000-1250). Untersuchungen zu Mobilität und Kulturtransfer auf prosopographischer Grundlage (Berlin, 2006).

25 Whether these troops came with “train”, i.e. with women and children and service personnel, is not clear from the sources.

26 Based on Hoerder, “Trade – Migration – Travel – Cultural Transfer” (forthcoming 2015). Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepard, The Emergence of the Rus 750-1200 (London, 1996); Simon Franklin, Writing, Society and Culture in Early Rus, c.950-1300 (Cambridge, 2002); Florin Curta, The Making of the Slavs: History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, c.500-700 (Cambridge, 2001), and Curta, “The Making of the Slavs: Ethnogenesis Revisited” http://www.academia.edu/422133/The_making_of_the_Slavs_Slavic_ethnogenesis_revisited; Andreas Kappeler, Russland als Vielvölkerreich. Entstehung-Geschichte-Zerfall (Munich, 1992, rev. ed. 2001), p. 9-24. For the connection to Byzantium: Benedict S. Benedikz, The Varangians of Byzantium, translated, revised, rewritten by Sigfús Blöndal (Cambridge, 1978), and John Meyendorff, Byzantium and the Rise of Russia. A Study of Byzantino-Russian Relations in the Fourteenth Century (Cambridge, 2010).

27 The introduction of primogeniture and intermarriage of the conqueror families’ younger sons and daughters with non-aristocratic families achieved a fusion of newcomer and native cultures.

28 Lucien Musset, “L’aristocratie normande au xie siècle”, in Philippe Contamine (ed.), La noblesse au moyen âge xie-xve siècles: Essais à la mémoire de Robert Boutruche (Paris, 1976), p. 71-96; David Walker, The Normans in Britain (Oxford, 1994).

29 A voluminous older literature – often with an undertone of men’s “heroic exploits” – has dealt with the “Normans.” See R.M. Dawkins, “The Later History of the Varangian Guard: Some Notes”, Journal of Roman Studies, 37 (1947), p. 39-46. For recent studies see John F. Haldon, Warfare, State and Society in the Byzantine World 565-1204 (London, 1999), and Nicholas C. J. Pappas, English Refugees in the Byzantine Armed Forces: The Varangian Guard and Anglo-Saxon Ethnic Consciousness (Huntsville TX, 2004).

30 The trading networks from Scandinavia and Jutland to England and the cities along the Rhine, not discussed here, remained closely connected to “Viking raiding”.

31 This section is based on Dirk Hoerder, “Crossing the Waters: Historic Developments and Periodizations [in the East and Southeast Asian Seas] to the Early 19th Century”, in Donna Gabaccia and Dirk Hoerder (eds.), Connecting Seas and Connected Ocean Rims: Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans and China Seas Migrations from the 1830s to the 1930s (Leiden, 2011), p. 12-41.

32 Engseng Ho, The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean (Berkeley, 2006).

33 Kirti N. Chaudhuri, Asia before Europe. Economy and Civilization of the Indian Ocean from the Rise of Islam to 1750 (Cambridge, 1990); Ashin Das Gupta, Merchants of Maritime India, 1500-1800 (Aldershot, 1994); Claude Markovits, “Indian Merchant Networks outside India in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: A Preliminary Survey”, in Donna Gabaccia and Dirk Hoerder, Connecting Seas, op. cit., p. 79-107.

34 Such arrangements were common along many sea routes. Foreign merchants in Muslim Arab port cities settled in walled compounds, funduqs, the gates of which were closed by local authorities at nightfall. The arrangements for Hanseatic merchants, Höfe, was similar. This segregation into walled settlements was based on a double reasoning: economic and gendered. The value of the foreign merchants lay in their role as intermediaries which would be compromised by becoming part of the locals. Since, in general, merchants were men without women, authorities felt a need to protect local women from the desires of these male communities but also wanted to prevent local women from developing emotional ties to the foreign men.

35 From the East African coastal commercial centers, in which numerous diasporic Asian and Arab merchant communities resided, trade into the interior was not managed by a further trader diaspora, but facilitated by the adoption of Swahili. This was spoken by residents along the coast but acted as a lingua franca deep into East Africa’s interior. In the Jewish diaspora Hebrew remained the language of long-distance communication while in everyday life the Sephardim and Ashkenazim spoke their respective languages. The relationship between a lingua franca and diaspora-formation or the absence of it needs further examination and theoretization.

36 Louise Levathes, When China Ruled the Seas. The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433 (New York, 1995); Jeannette Mirsky (ed.), The Great Chinese Travelers (Chicago, 1974).

37 Teobaldo Filesi, China and Africa in the Middle Ages, transl. D.L. Morison (London, 1972); Michael N. Pearson, Port Cities and Intruders: The Swahili Coast, India and Portugal in the Early Modern Era (Baltimore, 1998). For the “overseas Chinese” – the usual designation with its own implications – see Wang Gungwu, The Chinese Overseas: From Earthbound China to the Quest for Autonomy (Cambridge, Mass., 2000); Anthony Reid, “Flows and Seepages in the Long-term Chinese Interaction with Southeast Asia”, in Anthony Reid, Kristine Alilunas-Rodgers, and Jennifer Cushman (eds.), Sojourners and Settlers: Histories of Southeast Asia and the Chinese (London, 1996), p. 15-50, and Anthony Reid, “The Unthreatening Alternative: Chinese Shipping in Southeast Asia, 1567-1842”, Review of Indian and Malaysian Affairs, 27 (1993), p. 13-32.

38 See Dirk Hoerder and Amarjit Kaur (eds.), Proletarian and Gendered Mass Migrations: A Global Perspective on Continuities and Discontinuities from the 19th to the 21st Century – Studies in Global Migration History 1 (Leiden, 2013), essays in Part 4 and 5, on amahs especially the essay by Ooi Keat Gin. Philip A. Kuhn, “Why China Historians Should Study the Chinese Diaspora, and Vice Versa”, Journal of Chinese Overseas, 2.2 (2006), p. 163-172.

39 Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch, Cristina Blanc-Szanton (eds.), Towards a Transnational Perspective on Migration: Race, Class, Ethnicity and Nationalism Reconsidered (New York, 1992), with introduction by Glick Schiller, Basch, Blanc-Szanton, “Transnationalism: a New Analytic framework for Understanding Migration”, p. 1-24, and subsequent publications of this team of authors.

40 The following discussion is limited to scholarship in the Atlantic world since, for linguistic reasons, scholarship in Asian and African languages is not accessible to the author. It seems to me that African oral stories of slavery and its extension across “the waters” may have similarities to the memory of dispersal in Nordic sagas.

41 Randolph S. Bourne, “Trans-National America”, Atlantic Monthly, 118 (1916), p. 86-97; Horace M. Kallen, Culture and Democracy in the United States (New York, 1924), Nancy Foner, “What’s so new about transnationalism? New York immigrants today and at the end of the century”, Diaspora, 6.3 (1997), p. 354-375.

42 Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves. A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization, transl. from the Portuguese-language fourth and definitive edition by Samuel Putnam (New York, 1946; rev. Engl. ed.: Berkeley, 1986), Port. orig.: Casa-Grande e senzala: farmação da familia brasileira solo o regime de economia patriarcal (Rio de Janeiro, 1933, 1935).

43 Fernando Ortiz, “Del fenómeno de la transculturación y su importancia en Cuba”, Revista Bimestre Cubana, 27 (1940), p. 273-278, repr. in Ortiz, Contrapunteo cubano del tabaco y el azúcar (first ed. 1940; repr. La Habana, 1983), first Engl. edition, Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar, transl. from the Spanish by Harriet de Onís, introd. by Bronislaw Malinowski, prologue by Herminio Portell Vilà (New York, 1947), repr. with new introduction by Fernando Coronil (Durham, 1995).

44 Everett C. Hughes, “The Study of Ethnic Relations”, Dalhousie Review, 27 (1948), p. 477-482, and E.C. Hughes and Helen MacGill Hughes, Where Peoples Meet: Racial and Ethnic Frontiers (Glencoe, Ill., 1952).

45 Dirk Hoerder, “To Know Our Many Selves”: From the Study of Canada to Canadian Studies (Edmonton, 2010).

46 Dirk Hoerder, “Transnational – transregional – translocal: transcultural”, in Carlos Vargas-Silva (ed.), Handbook of Research Methods in Migration (Cheltenham, UK, 2011), p. 69-91.

47 Usability of the term “pioneer migrant” has been severely limited by the U.S. mythology of “pioneers” (or was it “pioneer families”?) settling the prairies. Designation as “pioneers” of merchants targeting a new destination or of village artisans moving to an urban market is also not useful since they do not strike out into the unknown but travel routes about which they had received information. Men and women in trading diasporas, like the Jewish, Armenian, or Chinese examples carefully explore new destinations rather than boldly pioneer new options.

48 Katia M. de Queiros Mattoso, To Be Slave in Brazil, 1550-1880 (4th ed.; New Brunswick, 1994); Stephan Palmié (ed.), Slave Culture and the Cultures of Slavery (Knoxville, 1995).

49 Martin L. Kilson and Robert I. Rotberg (eds.), The African Diaspora. Interpretive Essays (Cambridge, Mass., 1976); Joseph E. Harris (ed.), Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora (Washington, D.C., 1982), esp. Harris’s “Introduction”, p. 3-14, and Daniel L. Racine, “Concepts of Diaspora and Alienation as Privileged Themes in Négritude Literature”, p. 94-105; Vincent Bakpetu Thompson, The Making of the African Diaspora in the Americas 1441-1900 (Harlow, 1987); John Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800 (2nd ed., Cambridge, 1998).

50 Allen F. Roberts, “La ‘Géographie Processuelle’: Un nouveau paradigme pour les aires culturelles”, Lendemains, 31, n° 122-123 (2006), p. 41-61; Dirk Hoerder, “Transcultural States, Nations, and People”, in Hoerder with Christiane Harzig, Adrian Shubert (eds.), The Historical Practice of Diversity: Transcultural Interactions from the Early Modern Mediterranean to the Postcolonial World (New York, 2003), p. 13-32. See also Arjun Appadurai, “Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology”, in Richard Fox (ed.), Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present (Santa Fe, 1991), p. 191-210.

51 Dirk Hoerder, “Transnational – transregional – translocal: transcultural”, op. cit.

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Dirk Hoerder, « The weak and the powerful: a longue-durée and comprehensive perspective on diasporas », Diasporas, 23-24 | 2014, 30-49.

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Dirk Hoerder, « The weak and the powerful: a longue-durée and comprehensive perspective on diasporas », Diasporas [En ligne], 23-24 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2015, consulté le 23 juin 2017. URL : http://diasporas.revues.org/298 ; DOI : 10.4000/diasporas.298

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Auteur

Dirk Hoerder

Dirk Hoerder, professeur émérite, a enseigné l’histoire sociale ainsi que l’histoire des migrations à la Arizona State University et à l’Université de Bremen. Il a enseigné aux États-Unis, au Canada et à l’Université Paris 8 Saint-Denis. Il s’intéresse à l’histoire des systèmes migratoires du monde et à la sociologie de l’acculturation des migrants. Ses publications incluent Labor Migration in the Atlantic Economies (1985) ; Creating Societies : Immigrant Lives in Canada (1999) ; Cultures in Contact : World Migrations in the Second Millenium (2002) ; avec C. Harzig et A. Shubert, The Historical Practice of Diversity from the Early Modern Mediterranean to the Postcolonial World (2004) ; avec C. Harzig et D. Gabaccia, What Is Migration History ? (2009).

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Diasporas – Circulations, migrations, histoire est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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