The Dispersion

A History of the Word Diaspora


Winner of the 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award

In The Dispersion, Stéphane Dufoix skillfully traces how the word “diaspora”, first coined in the third century BCE, has, over the past three decades, developed into a contemporary concept often considered to be ideally suited to grasping the complexities of our current world. Spanning two millennia, from the Septuagint to the emergence of Zionism, from early Christianity to the Moravians, from slavery to the defence of the Black cause, from its first scholarly uses to academic ubiquity, from the early negative connotations of the term to its contemporary apotheosis, Stéphane Dufoix explores the historical socio-semantics of a word that, perhaps paradoxically, has entered the vernacular while remaining poorly understood.

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Stéphane Dufoix is Professor of Sociology at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. He has published on exile politics and diasporas (including Diasporas, University of California Press, 2008). He is working on a historical sociology of the concept of globalization.
[…] A remarkably erudite scholar, Dufoix […] describes the "social, political, intellectual and economic patterns" that have "rendered (the term) richer, with multiple and often contradictory significations. […] An impressive and, indeed, unique book that will assuredly serve as the definitive work on the history of the frequently invoked term "diaspora.""
Summing Up: Essential. All academic levels/libraries.

D. Altschiller, Boston University, CHOICE, August 2017

"With a breadth and depth of knowledge that is simply unrivaled, Dufoix uncovers the genealogy of diaspora from its ancient origins to its extraordinary proliferation in the contemporary era. A work of massive erudition and ambition, The Dispersion is by far the most original, comprehensive, and exciting account of its subject. It is hard to see how this book could ever be surpassed." – Kevin Kenny, Professor of History, Boston College, author of Diaspora: A Very Short Introduction

"Old and complex terms like diaspora migrate and mutate. Stéphane Dufoix has tenaciously revealed the social, historical and semantic metamorphoses of diaspora over the last 2300 years. His brilliant and definitive account will excite all scholars in the field of diaspora studies." – Robin Cohen, Emeritus Professor, University of Oxford, author of Global Diasporas: An Introduction
Acknowledgements ... ix
List of Maps, Illustrations, Figures and Tables ... xi

Introduction. Towards a Historical Socio-semantics of a Word in Vogue ... 1

Part 1: From the Word to the Concept

Introduction to Part 1 ... 23
1 The Word of the Septuagint ... 27
2 The Religious Space of Dispersion ... 76
3 Towards a Secular Concept ... 134

Part 2: Cham Dispersed: From the Jewish Model to the Reversal

Introduction to Part 2 ... 181
4 Next Year in Ethiopia: Blacks at the Jewish Mirror ... 185
5 A Name of One’s Own: The Emergence of the Black/African Diaspora ... 231
6 The Reversal ... 279

Part 3: The Name of the Global

Introduction to Part 3 ... 337
7 Constructing the Field of Diaspora Studies ... 340
8 The Critical Turn ... 392
9 States and Their Diasporas ... 444

Conclusion. Two Cats and Three Demons ... 495

Bibliography ... 501
Index of Names ... 581
All interested in the word and the concept of diaspora from Antiquity to the present, in migration and transnationalism, and identity studies; scholars of historical semantics and sociology of concepts.
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