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Marriage as Crisis

Revisiting a Major Dispute among Hadhramis in Indonesia

Martin Slama

Disputes over marriage rules triggered perhaps the most significant crisis in the history of the Hadhrami diaspora in Indonesia. Once this trade diaspora had become integrated into the colonial economy of the nineteenth century, rules that emphasized endogamy, especially for women, were questioned by those Hadhramis influenced by Islamic reformism, resulting in a schism of the community. This article revisits the marriage issue by looking at current disputes among Hadhramis, and at how the initial crisis has become institutionalized as well as engrained in collective memory. It also examines what upholding these rules implies for young women today, with personal crises triggered by difficulties in finding suitable marriage partners. The article's main argument rests upon a conception of crisis that attends to its latent character, to its longevity and recurrent appearance, and sees it as inherent to the intricacies of Hadhrami marriage.

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Katherine Clonan-Roy

In 1988, Michelle Fine explored the ways in which damaging patriarchal discourses about sexuality affect adolescent girls, and hinder their development of sexual desire, subjectivities, and responsibility. In this article, I emphasize the durability and pliability of those discourses three decades later. While they have endured, they shift depending on context and the intersections of girls’ race, class, and gender identities. Calling on ethnographic research, I analyze the intersectional nuances in these sexual lessons for Latina girls in one (New) Latinx Diaspora town.

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Facing the Future

The Artistic and Diasporic Afterlife of the Iran-Iraq War

Roxanne Varzi

How do the cultural and emotional after-effects of the Iran-Iraq War influence artistic production among Iranian artists living outside of Iran? How do Iranian diaspora self-portraits act as socio-political memoirs? This article addresses these questions by looking at some examples of diaspora artists who through their art somehow remain political 'subjects' of contemporary Iran, even as they grapple with the complexities of 'being away' - if that is ever really possible.

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Of Golden Anniversaries and Bicentennials

The Convergence of Memory, Tourism and National History in Ghana

Cheryl Finley

The year 2007 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Ghana and the two hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. The Ghana Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Affairs is planning the Joseph Project, a roots tourism initiative, aimed at ‘welcoming home’ its African diaspora. The historic slave forts and castles on Ghana’s coast are important sites for diasporic roots tourists, who also maintain symbolic links to Ghana’s independence movement through the history of Pan-Africanism. The Joseph Project uniquely includes a programme of national healing and atonement for African complicity in the slave trade and aims to remap national memory through tourism, education and the establishment of new museums, monuments and rituals.

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Syrian Diasporans as Transnational Civil Society Actors

Perspectives from a Network for Refugee Assistance

Shawn Teresa Flanigan and Mounah Abdel-Samad

This article presents early qualitative data from an ongoing project that includes interviews with members of a Syrian diaspora network engaged in giving and receiving philanthropy. With the onset of the Syrian refugee crisis, the network began to provide education for displaced Syrian children in Lebanon in addition to its other activities. The purpose of the research project is to understand motivations and mechanisms of humanitarian assistance toward a conflict region, and also if and how the practice of philanthropy is tied to peacebuilding on the ground and individuals’ sense of political efficacy. This article gives particular attention to the civil society aspects of diasporan assistance, and how those engaged in humanitarian aid conceive of their influence on politics, policy, and peacebuilding.

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Leaving the Homeland

Kurdish Diasporic Experience in Binghamton

Aynur de Rouen

Through interviews with Iraqi Kurdish refugees who are currently living in and around Binghamton, New York, this study aims to evaluate details about the impact of the diaspora on these refugees and its effects on the development of Kurdish identity. Specifically, it focuses on the narratives of refugees who have faced physical pressure and violence, cultural assimilation and ethnic cleansing in their homeland, which has left an indelible mark on their memories and identities. Lastly, these notes from the field articulate how collective memory gives voice to the shared Kurdish past, refugees’ experiences in diaspora and the importance of spreading memories of the older generations, particularly to second-generation refugees, in shaping identities and reconstructing place in the United States.

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Claiming Space

Documenting Second-generation Iranian Americans in Los Angeles

Amy Malek

In 2009–2010 I collaborated with four Iranian documentary photographers to document everyday lives of the second-generation Iranian-American community in Los Angeles (LA). This article offers an overview of that project and exhibition, along with a selection of images, and presents interview data that suggests several impacts of place and of representations of Iranians on second generation Iranian-American identity. Youth experiences of geopolitical, community and familial struggles have motivated many in this generation to re-mould the image of ‘LA Persians’ by claiming space in diaspora for themselves and their children, the growing third generation.

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Mirjam de Bruijn

Africa is at the lower end of internet use, but Facebook connectivity is rapidly increasing, linking diaspora and local people in mainly urban regions in Africa. A survey conducted in N’Djaména revealed that 1 in 10 people uses Facebook, which is an important platform for these connected Chadians to express feelings, write thoughts, and create networks (i.e., to create a social life). In countries where daily conflict, oppression, insecurity, and mistrust pervade social life, posts and messages engage with these circumstances in a certain dialogue, which can be understood as an expression of duress. This article follows three Facebook users from both the diaspora and N’Djaména, and I position their Facebook expressions and actions in the context of their personal lives in contemporary Chadian political and connectivity history. Facebook appears to be an escape route from the reality of duress, and a form of practical action coupled with political agency.

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Embodying Exile

Trauma and Collective Identities among East Timorese Refugees in Australia

Amanda Wise

Some of the more interesting and useful work on diasporic and transnational identities has emanated from scholars working in cultural studies and contemporary anthropology. However, with a few notable exceptions, little attention has been paid to the specific experiences of refugee diasporas, and in particular, to the role of trauma and embodiment in the creation of these ‘moral communities.’ Based on research with the East Timorese diaspora in Australia, this article looks at the performative dimensions (protests, church rituals, singing, and dancing) of the diaspora’s political campaign for East Timor’s independence. I consider how the bodily dimensions of this protest movement contributed to certain formations of identity, belonging, and exile, within the Timorese community. In particular, I explore how these performative strategies have created a context for ‘retraumatizing’ bodies and memories, channeling them into a political ‘community of suffering,’ in turn contributing to a heightened sense of the morality of an exilic identity among many Timorese.

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Transnational Public Spheres from 'Above' and from 'Below'

Feminist Networks across the Middle East and Europe

Ruba Salih

This article examines the emergence of transnational public spheres brought about by women activists in diasporas and countries of origin across Europe and the Middle East. Such activism can take various forms - networks, partnerships, transnational mobilisations against war or for advocacy - which, in turn, have an impact on the ability to provide women with new paths to emancipation. Although globalising states and societies are becoming more interconnected, demarcating inequalities and forms of governance still exist. Parameters based on territoriality and national citizenship reinforce the unequal access to resources that women experience around the globe and thus have a hand in shaping women's agendas. The article concludes that although women may be able to acquire empowering tools through feminist transnational networks, these tools are not always capable of dismantling boundaries or weakening old hierarchies.