376 Zenbakia 2007-01-05 / 2007-01-12
It is worth mentioning Clifford’s words in the matter: “Diaspora cultures are ways of conceiving community, citizenship, and identity as simultaneously here and elsewhere”1.
Claval argues that diaspora is a process that has to be explained in terms of local and global terms: Diasporas “preserve their identity because they consider themselves as parts of a wider community the center of which is often far away”2 . They maintain relations with it and (or) with other scattered groups. Diasporas have to be explained in terms of macro and micro-social and spatial organization. Migrants reconfigure their space so that their lives are lived simultaneously within two or more spaces.
The Basque example can be really illustrative in the matter as the members of the diasporic community start considering themselves part of the global Basque ethnic community. “While the physical limitations of distance are increasingly eliminated as factors in separating ethnic diaspora populations, there has resulted an expansion of the imagining of a worldwide diaspora Basque identity”3.
These “processes by which immigrants forge and sustain multi-stranded social relations that link together their societies of origin and settlement”4 have a name: transnationalism. This process and the people inside (transnational migrants) are inextricably linked to the changing conditions of global capitalism. D) Globalization and telecommunications in the development of diasporas
Globalization “refers to the widening deepening and speeding up of global interconnectedness”5. It is by no means a novel phenomenon, but there has been a quantitative and qualitative shift in recent times.
A few decades ago, hyperglobalizers predicted the globalization of culture, and the eradication of differences (national as well as cultural). Although it is true that states and societies across the globe are experiencing a process of profound change as they try to adapt to a more interconnected world, there is no evidence of a process of uniformization. Instead, the intermingling of cultures and peoples are generating cultural hybrids and new global cultural networks.
In this particular context, diasporas are going through a transformation as well. Stanly Brunn sees the impact of modern technological progress as the major factor in the contemporary proliferation of diasporas. Claval takes this idea even further: the progress in techniques made diasporas from dormant ones to political ones. “The political significance of diasporas grows, thanks to the globalization of the economy and the development of international relations. They influence the attitudes and aspirations of the home country, experience conflicts and cooperation with their host societies, and contribute massively to the functioning of the international networks which are central to our world”6. Concerning the political role that the diaspora might play in its homeland, there is not yet such evidence with the Basque diaspora. Though the relations between the diaspora and homeland institutions have progressed, the Basque diaspora institutions keep reminding the Basque Autonomous Government their politically independent positions. But in other cases such as Ireland, and Galicia, the diaspora can and have played an instrumental role during the elections.
Since the 1970s, it is frequently said that the growth of migration led to the formation of “new diasporas” (expression used to qualify these new transnational populations). In this context of globalization and enforced transnationalism, these transnational communities have the means to make themselves more visible inside the host country. Gérard François Dumont in a talk delivered in 1993 in Cyprus talks about a phenomenon of “diasporization” that is taking place in France since the 1970s in which the new waves of immigrant communities challenge social cohesion “à la française”7.
These transnational networks are even more enhanced with the accessibility of global communications. The flowing information influences diaspora consciousness. The satellite Euskal Telebista (Basque television) is now transmitted to South America and eastern United States. The Internet plays an important role too. These new technologies open new possibilities and serve the interests of diasporic communities.
“However, I emphasize that globalization and diasporization are separate phenomena with no necessary causal connection, though already existing Basque ethnic-identity maintenance and diaspora strength are increased by the effects of globalization”8. CONCLUSION
The main element that characterizes a migrant community as diaspora is its constant relation with the homeland. Therefore –although the emigration from the Basque Country is quasi-inexistent nowadays-, the Basque immigrant community can be labeled as such. Second, third, and fourth generations Basques born in the host country perpetuate these relations with the homeland. Basque diaspora has to be distinguished from the ones we call “new diasporas”, whose population is still on the move.
The concept “diaspora” has become overly prominent and discussed. It has become a hot topic in all the social sciences and humanities, as well as in the media, and now in the general populace. As mentioned above, there exist different definitions. Moreover, when we talk about the Basque diaspora, who are we talking about? The six millions Basque people that live outside of the Basque Country (a number often mentioned by the Basque Autonomous Government)? Too exaggerated in my opinion. The people that are involved in the Basque institutions? This would mean that we are talking about 50 000 people around the globe.
The diaspora seems to be a pretty good neutral term, a kind of strange word, that we can add meaning to. Therefore I would like to open a discussion on the possibility of adding another characteristic to the term. Everybody agrees that to talk about a diaspora, the immigrant community has to be turned toward its homeland. And why not the other way around? With the homeland turned toward its diaspora? Bibliography
Clifford, J. “Diasporas”, in The Ethnicity Reader: Nationalism, Multiculturalism and Migration, ed Montserrat Guibernau et John Rex, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1997.
Cohen. R. 1997. Global Diasporas: An Introduction, UCL Press, Cornwall.
Held, David. 1999. Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Okamura, Jonathan Y. 1998. Imagining the Filipino American Diaspora: Transnational Relations, Identities, and Communities, London: Garland Publishing, Inc.
PrévélakiS, Georges. 1996. The Network of Diasporas. Paris: Cyprus Research Center Kykem.
Safran, W. “Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of homeland and return”, Diasporas: A Journal of Transnational Studies, vol.1, 1991, pp. 83-98.
Totoricagüena, Gloria, “Shrinking World, Expanding Diaspora: Globalization and Basque Diasporic Identity” in The Basque Diaspora/La Diaspora Vasca, edited by William Douglass et al. Reno: University of Nevada Reno, Center for Basque Studies.
Totoricagüena, Gloria. 2000. “Downloading Identity in the Basque Diaspora: Utilizing Internet to Create and Maintain Identity”. Nevada Historical Society Quarterly 43 (summer): 140-54
Totoricagüena Gloria. 1999. “Los Vascos en la Argentina”, in La Inmigracion Espanola en la Argentina, ed by Alejandro Fernandez and José Moya, Buenos Aires: Editorial Biblos. Van Hear, Nicolas. 1998. New Diasporas: The Mass Exodus, Dispersal and Regrouping of Migrant Communities. London: UCL Press. 1 Clifford, in Okamura, op.cit. 2 Claval, “The Challenge of Diasporas”, in Prévélakis, op.cit. p.436. 3 Totoricagüena, Gloria, “Shrinking World, Expanding Diaspora: Globalization and Basque Diasporic Identity” in The Basque Diaspora/La Diaspora Vasca, edited by William Douglass et al. Reno: University of Nevada Reno, Center for Basque Studies. 4 In PrévélakiS, Georges. 1996. The Network of Diasporas. Paris: Cyprus Research Center Kykem. pp.439-440. 5 Held, David. 1999. Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture, Stanford: Stanford University Press. p .15 6 Claval, in Prévélakis, op.cit. p.439 7 Dumont, Gérard François, “The Challenge of Diasporas”, in Prévélakis, op.cit. 8 Totoricagüena, Gloria. 2000. “Downloading Identity in the Basque Diaspora: Utilizing Internet to Create and Maintain Identity”. Nevada Historical Society Quarterly 43 (summer): 140-54