Diaspora describes the heterogeneous articulations and diverse experiences of populations that have been displaced from their homelands and dispersed throughout the world. It is concerned with questions of identity, difference, memory, and survival. The subjects of diaspora have lived through conquest, colonization, the Middle Passage, racial slavery, genocide, famine, wars, dispossession from their land, and labor exploitation. They have moved through the realms of loss, hurt, unspeakable violence, suffering, sorrow, and creativity—straddling through multiple dimensions of space and time; striving to reverse the irreversible directions of their long journeys; traveling and returning; and struggling to reconcile the nearness of a homeland and the sense of incompleteness. Such a mnemonic exercise involves recognition that the past is flitting and that the attainment of a unitary identity is impossible. Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), one of the most important Black revolutionaries of the second half of the twentieth century, explained in Ready for Revolution that the subjects of diaspora are peoples of dispersal, but “dispersal only begins the process, it does not end it.” It begins the process of survival and sets in motion ceaseless struggles toward freedom. To think, to dream, to theorize, and to live with and through diaspora is to do the most difficult double task of explanatory construction. That is to discursively explore the roots of identity and routes of identity formation and, as Carmichael noted, “stay ready” (rather than get ready) to revolutionalize existing ontological categories governed by liberal individualism and capitalism to live and struggle for a committed human life.

Yuichiro Onishi, originally published in XCP no 15/16 (2005)