As a descriptive category, “diaspora” refers to the dispersal and movement of a population (defined by race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, or another coalescing identity) from one national or geographic location to other disparate sites. The word derives from Greek, a combination of dia (across or through) and sperein (to sow or to scatter). The fraught nature of the term for gender and sexuality studies scholars is reflected in its etymological roots, which are shared with the word sperm: “The original meaning of diaspora summons the image of scattered seeds, and… thus refers us to a system of kinship reckoned through men and suggests the questions of legitimacy in paternity that patriarchy generates” (Helmreich 1992, 245). Indeed, this traditional articulation of diaspora is apparent in myriad contemporary cultural formations, where all too often diasporas are narrated through relational bonds between men and specifically through an oedipal relation between fathers and sons (Gopinath 2005). Feminist and queer scholars have had to grapple with the patriarchal, patrilineal, and heteronormative underpinnings of the term in order to retool it for their own purposes.

This essay may be found on page 67 of the printed volume.

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