Dr. Swagata Bhattacharya
Post Doctoral Fellow
Department of Comparative Literature
Since the 1970s, the Greek term ‘diaspora’ was increasingly being used to denote almost every people living far away from their ancestral or former homeland. In his seminal article ‘Mobilized and Proletarian Diasporas’, John Armstrong applied the term straight-forwardly “to any ethnic collectivity which lacks a territorial base within a given polity.”[i]Martin Baumann says, “The definition places emphasis on the enduring, often glorifying identification of a group of people with a cultural-religious point of reference outside the current country of living.”[ii] It is C.D. Verma who clearly states in his The Exile-Hero and the Reintegrating Vision in Indian English Fiction, that “The central characters in these (diasporic) novels experience interaction between two socio-cultural environments, at times resulting in disillusionment both ‘here’ and ‘abroad’. A human consequence of such an experience is the heightened awareness of the central character.”[iii] This “heightened awareness” in turn gives rise to the so-called ‘victim tradition’, as Robin Cohen puts it—“All scholars of diaspora recognize that the victim tradition is at the heart of any definition of the concept.” [iv]
[i] Armstrong , John ‘Mobilized and Proletarian Diasporas’ in American Political Science Review 70 , (2) , 1976 , pp 393.
[ii] Baumann ,Martin ‘Diaspora : Genealogies of Semantics and Transcultural Comparison’ in Numen , Vol. 47 , No. 3 , Religions in the Disenchanted World (2000) , BRILL , pp 327.
[iii] Verma , C.D. ‘Introduction’ in The Exile-Hero and the Reintegrating Vision in Indian English Fiction Sterling Publishers Private Limited , New Delhi , 1991 , pp 1.
[iv] Cohen , Robin ‘ Diasporas and the Nation-State : From Victims to Challengers’ in International Affairs , Vol. 72 , No. 3 , Blackwell Publishing , July 1996 , pp 513.