The definition of the term “African Diaspora” may have different meanings for people. In one simple definition it is defined as “a label that is used to describe the dispersed people removed/exiled from a common territorial/geographic origin, Africa.”
It is defined another way as: “a state of being and a process of becoming, a condition and consciousness located in the shifting interstices of ‘here’ and ‘there,’ a voyage of negotiation between multiple spatial and social identities.”
It is a term that has also evolved over the years as African-Americans and others have struggled to understand and better define what it means to them.
In the late 19th century, the term African Diaspora was not used – even by such great thinkers as Edward Blyden (1832-1912) to W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963).
Instead, there were other terms, like “Pan-Africanism,” which represented how various populations of Africans were mobilized around the globe. This was epitomized by the “Back-to-African” movement promoted by the Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey (1887-1940).
By the 1950s and 1960s, this idea of the diaspora began to emerge and be analyzed by scholars. But one common over simplification of the term was to define the African Diaspora as being one of the forced migration of peoples during the Atlantic slave trade. However, this ignored the free and forced migration of those who ended up in Europe or Asia.
Attempts have been made to better categorize African Diaspora. For instance, it has been recently divided into four categories based on the places of dispersal. They are: the intra-Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and Atlantic diasporas.
But however it has been defined or categorized; the understanding of the African Diaspora is a complex one and defies the attempts to contain it by words. Instead, it can be loosely described as one’s personal identity in a new place but having its common roots in the African continent.
“African Diaspora” (2005). Retrieved on December 11, 2017 from http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/anthropology-and-archaeology/human-evolution/african-diaspora.
“The African Diaspora” (n.d.). Retrieved on December 11, 2017 from http://www.virginia.edu/woodson/courses/aas102%20(spring%2001)/articles/pierre_lecture.pdf.
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