The Turn to Diaspora

Lily Cho


This essay argues that diaspora must be understood as a condition of subjectivity and not as an object of analysis. I propose an understanding of diaspora as first and foremost a subjective condition marked by the contingencies of long histories of displacements and genealogies of dispossession. In focusing on the problem of subjectivity and subject formation, I am suggesting that diasporas are not just there. They are not simply collections of people, communities of scattered individuals bound by some shared history, race or religion. Rather, they emerge in relation to power, in the turn to and away from power. Diasporic subjects emerge in turning, turning back upon those markers of the self—homeland, memory, loss—even as they turn on or away from them.

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