Settler colonial or diasporic? Stephen C. Lubkemann, ‘Diasporicity and Its Discontents: Generation and Fragmented Historicity in the Liberian Transnational Field’, Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies Volume 18, 1/2, 2015, pp. 208-227


Abstract: In this article I draw on a long history of successive transatlantic “displacements” and “returns” that have shaped and reshaped Liberian diasporan identities. Proposing that diasporicity is above all an identity discourse, the first part of this article documents and compares dramatic differences in that discourse across historical generations while also examining arguments about this form of identity and social differences in subscription to it within specific generations. This history has been one of successive and often mutually contradictory recastings of where “origin” is located, which have been subject to social argumentation. A comparison of these identity discourses across different historical generations suggests the need to investigate diasporicity as more than merely an affirmation of belonging but rather also a powerful critique of exclusion. Finally, I hone in on the variations of diasporicity that have emerged within the Liberian transnational field during a single historical period (the present) to demonstrate how diasporicity as a particular form of identity emerges under—and inherently references—conditions of experiential fragmentation that are largely unforeseen and fundamentally problematic for current analytical concepts of generation. Describing some of the multiple diasporicities within the current Liberian transnational field, I argue that any concept of diasporic generation must be one that empirically ascertains the boundaries of shared historicity rather than assuming that temporal and social boundaries coincide.

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