2. The Anthropology of Transnationalism and Diaspora

  1. Ato Quayson and
  2. Girish Daswani
  1. Girish Daswani

Published Online: 25 JUN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118320792.ch2

A Companion to Diaspora and Transnationalism

A Companion to Diaspora and Transnationalism

How to Cite

Daswani, G. (2013) The Anthropology of Transnationalism and Diaspora, in A Companion to Diaspora and Transnationalism (eds A. Quayson and G. Daswani), Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118320792.ch2

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 JUN 2013
  2. Published Print: 3 SEP 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405188265

Online ISBN: 9781118320792



  • anthropology;
  • home;
  • citizenship;
  • refugees;
  • traders;
  • kinship;
  • religion


Can we speak about an anthropology of diaspora and transnationalism? This chapter seeks to answer this question in three ways. Firstly, in briefly addressing the history of anthropology, the chapter argues that anthropology has always been about the “trans-” and the “nation” in its study of cultural differences elsewhere. Secondly, it demonstrates that while anthropologists have been working on these questions for some time, there is an important need to understand how we use conceptual categories such as transnationalism and diaspora, and how they are distinct (or not) from each other and other categories that become used synonymously with them, such as globalization. Finally, some major themes are identified that have emerged around the anthropological study of transnationalism and diaspora. They include homeland and place-making, citizenship and political subjectivity, refugees and asylum-seekers, the traveling suitcase trade, transnational kinship, and transnational religion and religious diasporas. While it is not always easy to make clear distinctions between diaspora and transnationalism, this chapter argues that we should be aware of how people struggle with articulating their own desires, hopes, aspirations, and ambitions for transcending boundaries and barriers, alongside the continual recreation of ideas of nostalgia for home and homeland.