Journal article Open Access

Transnationalism and Diaspora: 'Awkward Dance Partners'?

Lahiri, Himadri

In view of the unprecedented technological progress that has resulted in ‘time-space compression,’ we
have seen a spurt in the worldwide movement of human beings and capital. Such movements have
impacts on political, economic and socio-cultural lives of individuals, communities and even on inter-state
relationships. In critical parlance two prominent terms – transnationalism and diaspora – are used to
describe this movement of man and money. The terms are often used interchangeably. However, it has
been argued that they have their own ‘distinct birth marks,’ particular areas of emphases, and their own
evolutionary histories. Dealing with issues related to cross-border migration, their interests often overlap.
Diaspora, it has been asserted, is an old term, while transnationalism, as a phenomenon, appears in the
1990s to address certain emerging issues arising in the age of Globalisation. Diaspora and transnationalism
have been regarded as ‘awkward dance partners,’ a phrase that points out both the existence of
collaborative partnership and the presence of uneasiness in their relationship. This article makes an
attempt to define the terms from the vantage point of our time and figure out their relationship. It also
suggests that they should be regarded as cognate terms to analyse the growing impact of cross-border
flow of human beings as well as economic and cultural resources.

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