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This article is about dispersion of peoples. For the novel by Greg Egan, see Diaspora (novel).

The term diaspora (Greek διασπορά, a scattering or sowing of seeds) is used (without capitalization) to refer to any people or ethnic population forced or induced to leave their traditional ethnic homelands, being dispersed throughout other parts of the world, and the ensuing developments in their dispersal and culture.

Originally, the term Diaspora (capitalized) was used to refer specifically to the populations of Jews exiled from Judea in 586 BC by the Babylonians, and Jerusalem AD 135 by the Romans. This term is used interchangeably to refer to the historical movements of the dispersed ethnic population of Israel, the cultural development of that population, or the population itself. The probable origin of the word is the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy 28:25, "thou shalt be a diaspora (Greek for dispersion) in all kingdoms of the earth". The term has been used in its modern sense since the late twentieth century.

The academic field of diaspora studies was established in the late twentieth century in regard to the expanded meaning of diaspora.

The twentieth century in particular has seen massive ethnic refugee crises due to war and the rise of nationalism and racism. The first half of the twentieth century saw the creation of hundreds of millions of ethnic refugees across Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. Many of these refugees who did not die from starvation or war came to the Americas.

List of notable diasporas

In reference to both historical figures, and present-day persons, the idiom of "living in the Diaspora" in a closely related sense is used -- especially by Jews or when speaking of a Jew -- as synonymous with "living in exile from the land of Israel" as in "Jacob lived in Israel, but most of his friends lived in the Diaspora" Note that this sense is not used in reference to any sort of political exile (as by one's fellow citizens) from the Nation of Israel .
  • The Filipino peoples throughout Australia, the USA, Canada and South East Asia. Overseas workers have their own political party in parliament.
  • The French Canadian diaspora includes hundreds of thousands of people who left Quebec for greener pastures in the United States, Ontario and the Prairies between 1840 and the 1930s.
  • Armenians living in the region controlled by the Ottoman Empire fled during genocides from 1880s to the 1910s
  • Various ethnic minorities from areas under Russian and Soviet control following the Russian Revolution, continuing through the mass forced resettlements under Stalin
  • Various groups fled in large numbers from areas under Axis control during World War II, or after the border changes following the war, and formed their own diasporas. Other than the aforementioned Jewish diaspora, notable are:
    • the Gypsies, a traditionally dispersed people, even more so due to the genocide of Nazi Germany
    • Polonia, the diaspora of the Poles, enlarged by the Nazi policies and later by the establishment of the Curzon line
    • the Heimatvertriebene, the ethnic German refugees from the former German Empire during and following World War II, enlarged by the Oder-Neisse line
  • The Southeast Asian diaspora includes the refugees from the numerous wars that took place in Southeast Asia, such as World War II and the Vietnam War.
  • In modern Greek the word diaspora refers to the large populations of Greek descent living in the United States, Australia and other countries. There is a Department of Diaspora Affairs in the Greek government.
  • Palestinians who fled Palestine during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war (see Palestinian exodus, Palestinian refugees)
  • Afghan people who fled their country throughout the 20th century and the long civil wars
  • Chechens who fled Chechnya during the late 20th century insurrection against the Russian Federation
  • Almost 5% of the present day Australian population lives outside of Australia for a variety of reasons. This phenomenon, until recently not widely discussed in Australian political debate, has become known as the Australian Diaspora
  • Arabs who have migrated out from the Arab World and now reside in Western Europe, the Americas, Australia and elsewhere. (see Arab diaspora)
  • Moslem diaspora refers to Moslem populations who have left their traditional homelands in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia and migrated, usually for economic reasons, to the more prosperous regions of the west. They are found especially in European, Russian, North American and Australian urban areas.They are not to be confused with the Moslem populations of India or western China, who arrived or were converted at a time of military conquest by Moslem armies.The presence of the Moslem Diaspora in has been a source of anxiety in some western circles, since the spread of international terrorism.

The above list is not comprehensive or definitive. Only a few have been given much historical attention.

During the Cold War era huge populations of refugees continued to form from areas of war, especially from Third World nations, all over Africa, South and Central America, the Middle East, and east Asia.

Last updated: 02-05-2005 01:22:22
Last updated: 02-25-2005 00:58:04