Since the 1980s scholars of different backgrounds have contributed to the reinvention of diaspora as an important concept in academic research. As an analytical tool and perspective on the triadic relations built into the processes of “expatriate minority communities”, the concept travelled across disciplines and did at times change the disciplines or was itself altered in the process. This one-day conference is organized on behalf of the ITN network CoHaB (Constructions of Home and Belonging). In the content of the conference the concept of diaspora and its “travelling” features in different dimensions will be discussed.

The subjects, forms of life and artefacts under study in diaspora research are often transnationally distributed and expressed in fluid forms. Clearly diaspora has bearing on some of the central processes and sociocultural phenomena associated with human migration, displacement, exile and transnational dispersal. How are researchers approaching this with reference to a diaspora concept?

One answer is that scholars have applied the concept of diaspora in divergent ways. On the European scene there have been few attempts to learn from the diversity in the field of diaspora studies by, for example, exchanging experiences and discussing theoretical differences. The aim of this conference is therefore to contribute to such learning and to encourage development in diaspora studies by implementing a cross-disciplinary dialogue between researchers in the humanities and the social sciences. To promote this cross-disciplinary dialogue, a number of researchers from different disciplines, all of them engaged in analyses of various ways of constructing home and belonging in different diaspora spaces, have been invited to this conference.

The conference will start with a keynote session where Doctor Myria Georgiou from London School of Economics and Political Science will introduce the topic in a seminar with the title Diasporic imaginaries and cosmopolitan visions: A plurality of opportunities and challenges. In the succeeding panel the discussion about the conceptual challenges in diaspora research will continue through interventions by Professor Avtar Brah (Birkbeck, University of London), Professor Khachig Tölölyan (Wesleyan University), and Professor Klaus Stierstorfer (University of Münster). In the paper session, 20 papers in three parallel panels will address the conceptual development and/or methodological challenges in diaspora research. The accepted papers are based on recent empirical research and on analyses of new forms of sociability, political mobilization or the production and presentation of cultural artefacts such as art, literature and films.


10.00-12.00 Keynote session

Venue: William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus. See this map of the building Geovetenskapens hus (370 Kb)


Welcome to the conference by the organizers.


Diasporic imaginaries and cosmopolitan visions: A plurality of opportunities and challenges, Doctor Myria Georgiou, Associate Professor and Deputy Head of Department at the Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science.

The presentation focusses on diasporic imagination and the possibilities and limitations it presents to advancing cosmopolitan politics of conviviality and solidarity. In drawing from two research projects conducted with diasporic populations in multicultural European cities, the presentation reveals the rich yet contradictory ways in which members of diasporas perceive themselves as part of proximate and distant worlds. As it will be argued, diaspora’s transnational condition and unstable position enhance cosmopolitan reflexivity and openness. At the same time, diasporic cosmopolitan orientation takes its meanings at its juncture with processes of diasporic community building and collective experiences of marginality. The discussion develops in dialogue with Werbner’s (2006) vernacular cosmopolitanism, Delanty’s (2006) critical cosmopolitanism, Hall’s (2008) cosmopolitanism from below, and debates on cosmopolitan imaginaries (Calhoun 2003; Chouliaraki 2013). It analyses the kinds of politics diasporic imagination gives rise to and the conditions under which such imaginaries come closer to or move further away from politics of conviviality and solidarity.


Travelling with diaspora concept: notes on diaspora research by Professor Avtar Brah, Professor Khachig Tölölyan and Professor Klaus Stierstorfer.


Lunch. The organizers will offer a light meal to all visitors to the conference.


13.00-17.00 Panel session

Venues: Y10, Y11, Y22,  Geovetenskapens hus. See this map of the building Geovetenskapens hus (370 Kb)

Panel 1 – Diaspora: When experiences become identity

The panel focuses on social mobilization and the creation of belonging among diasporic communities. How do we study the processes of transforming human experiences of exile, displacement and migration into feelings of belongings and identifications among diasporic communities? How are these processes conceptualized in different disciplines and how do we utilize the divergent understandings in a cross-disciplinary dialogue?

  • Špela Drnovšek Zorko, SOAS
    “Being there: two stories of memory, generation, and experience”
  • Nydia A Swaby, SOAS
    ‘London is the place me’: place-belonging/ess and black British identity formation
  • Mathilde Zederman, SOAS
    The Distinctiveness of the Tunisian Diasporic Political Space in France
  • Ipek Demir, University of Leicester, UK
    ‘Ethno-political Tuition’ and Making it ‘Palatable’: The Difficulties of Translating the Kurdish Ethno-Political Struggle in Diaspora
  • Heidi Moksnes, Stockholm University
    Diasporic belonging in a stratified community: Irregular Latin American migrants in Sweden
  • Camilla Orjuela, University of Gothenburg
    Diasporas and contested justice – conceptual and methodological challenges

Venue: Y10
Convenor: Professor Annika Rabo, Stockholm University.

Panel 2 – Diaspora: Performing diaspora

This panel addresses the expressive forms of diaspora. What notions of homes and belongings are accentuated in expressive cultures of diasporas? How are these cultures instrumental in the social and political formations of diasporic communities? The panel will be featuring a cross-disciplinary dialogue on methods and the use of concepts when studying for instance ‘diasporic art’ and ‘culture’ and their role as constituencies of diasporas.

  • Kerstin B Andersson, connected to Linkoping University / Uppsala University
    The Digital Diaspora, the notions of home and homeland
  • Jayana Jain Punamiya, ITN CoHaB, WWU Muenster, Germany and University of Mumbai, India
    Articulating Jain Diaspora: An Examination of the Performative Practices of Jain Diaspora Associations in Belgium
  • Iulia Rascanu, University of Mumbai, India
    Re-Homing the ‘Home’ in Crossing Bridges (2013)
  • Alba de Béjar Muiños, University of Northampton, UK
    “Alternative Home-Making in Contemporary Speculative Fictions by Women. Posthumanist and Diasporic Re-Constructions of Gender, Racial, Sexual, and National Identities.”
  • Holly Morgan, University of Münster

    Maternal Diasporas: Renita’s D’Silva’s Transnational Families

  • Melanie R. Wattenbarger, University of Mumbai
    Interrogating Authenticity: Reaching Towards a Methodology of Diasporic Authorial Belonging

Venue: Y22
Convenor: Professor Helena Wulff, Stockholm University.

Panel 3 – Diaspora: Homing at a distance

The panel addresses the narrating of home(s) in diasporas. The constructions of homes – the homing – are made both in relation to the ‘host-society’ and to the society of ‘origin’. How do we study and analyze the processes of ‘diasporic homing’ and the ‘emotional engaging’ of individuals and groups?

  • Aija Lulle and Russell King, University of Latvia and Univerisity of Sussex
    Beyond remittances: knowledge-transfer among educated Latvian youth abroad
  • Hero Karimi
    Beyond Diaspora - what now?
  • Siri Schwabe, Stockholm University
    At home in the struggle: diasporic narratives of Palestinian resistance
  • Tania González-F, Stockholm University
    Caring and feeling at a distance. An ethnographic approach to family life in diasporic contexts
  • Tekalign Ayalew, Stockholm University
    Ethiopian Diasporic Community Networks and Practice of Homemaking in Sweden
  • Öncel Naldemirci, University of Gothenburg
    Nicknames in diaspora: Tracing migrant tales of first-generation Turkish migrants in Sweden

Venue: Y11
Convenor: Professor Erik Olsson, Stockholm University.


Erik Olsson and Annika Rabo
Department of Social Anthropology
Stockholm University
SE 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden


Contributors and organizers

Keynote session

Dr Myria Georgiou is Associate Professor and Deputy Head of Department at the Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science. She has a PhD in Sociology (LSE), an MSc in Journalism (Boston University) and a BA in Sociology (Panteion University, Athens). Her research focuses on migration and diaspora, media and the city, and the ways in which media contribute to constructions of identity and meanings of cultural diversity. For more than 18 years she has been conducting and leading cross-national and transurban research across Europe and between British and American cities. She has also worked as a journalist for BBC World Service, Greek press, and the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation. Among her publications are Diaspora, Identity and the Media: Diasporic Transnationalism and Mediated Spatialities (Hampton Press, 2006) and Media and the City: Cosmopolitanism and Difference (Polity Press, 2013).

Avtar Brah is a Professor of Sociology at Birkbeck College, University of London with an interest in race, gender and ethnicity. Professor Brah was awarded an MBE in 2001 in recognition of her research. Her books include Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities; Hybridity and Its Discontents: Politics, Science, Culture (edited with Annie Coombes); Thinking Identities: Racism, Ethnicity and Culture and Global Futures: Migration, Environment and Globalization (both edited with Mary Hickman and Mairtin Mac an Ghail).

Dr Khachig Tölölyan is Professor of Letters at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, USA. He is a renowned scholar of diaspora studies and he has published extensively in the field, especially on the Armenian diaspora. Professor Tölölyan is founder and editor of Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies.

Dr Klaus Stierstorfer is Professor of English at the University of Münster. He is both CoHaB’s main coordinator and lead scientist at CoHaB Münster. His publications include, amongst others, John Oxenford (1812-1877) as Farceur and Critic of Comedy (1996); (ed., introd., annot.), London Assurance and Other Victorian Comedies (2001); Konstruktion literarischer Vergangenheit (2001), Women Writing Home (series editor), and Constructions of Home (2010).

Organizers and convenors:

Dr Erik Olsson is Professor of International Migration and Ethnic Relations at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University. His research is mainly in the field of diaspora and transnational migration. Professor Olsson is responsible for the Migration Cluster and CEIFO at the Department of Social Anthropology and the coordination of the Stockholm part within the CoHaB research network.

Dr Annika Rabo is Professor of Social Anthropology at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University. Her field research has mainly been carried out in the Middle East, particularly in Syria focusing on topics such as education, family law and migration. Together with Erik Olsson Annika Rabo is currently working in the project “Service and welfare in transnational space”. The aim of this project is to understand how social networks assume responsibility for social support in transnationally connected migrant populations. The focus is on social care and welfare related services among Assyrians/Syriac migrants residing in Sweden and among Swedish/Nordic migrants residing in Spain whose everyday lives are embedded in transnational spaces.

Dr Helena Wulff is Professor of Social Anthropology at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University. Her research is in the anthropology of communication and aesthetics based on a wide range of studies on the social worlds of literary production, dance, and visual arts in a transnational perspective, recently on writing as craft and career in Ireland. She is about to start new research on diaspora and migrant fiction in Sweden. Among her recent publications are the monographs Ballet across Borders: Career and Culture in the World of Dancers (2001, Berg) and Dancing at the Crossroads: Memory and Mobility in Ireland (2007, Berghahn), as well as the volumes The Emotions: A Cultural Reader (editor, 2007, Berg) Ethnographic Practice in the Present (editor with Marit Melhuus and Jon P. Mitchell, 2010, Berghahn), and The Anthropologist as Writer: Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century (editor, forthcoming, 2016, Berghahn).