Diaspora as Process: (De)Constructing Boundaries



This article discusses different conceptualisations of diaspora, as bounded, unbounded and as a process, in order to help highlight the useful role diaspora can play in explorations and (de)constructions of nation-state, community and identity boundaries. There are two main ways in which diaspora has been theorised. The first theorises diaspora in relation to defined homeland-orientated ethnic groups and identities and the second theorises diaspora in relation to fluid, non-essentialised, nomadic identities. This article argues that it is necessary to look beyond such conceptualisations of diaspora as nomadic/fluid (unbounded) or homeland-centred/ethnic-religious (bounded). This article advocates a flexible use of diaspora as process that is able to examine the dynamic negotiations of collective, strategic and politicised identities based around constructions of ‘sameness’ and the homeland, as well as individual identities that are malleable, hybrid and multiple. It stresses that it is within this notion of diaspora as process that geographers, with their emphasis on place, space and time, have an important role to play.