Symbolic representation is a crucial subject for and a potent heuristic instrument of diaspora studies. This special focus inquires into the forms and functions of symbols of diaspora both in aesthetic practice and in critical discourse, analyzing and theorizing symbols from Shakespeare to Bollywood as well as in critical writings of theorists of diaspora. What kinds of symbols and symbolic practices, contributors ask, are germane to the representation, both emic and etic, of diasporics and diasporas? How are specific symbols and symbolic practices analyzed across the academic fields contributing to diaspora studies? Which symbols and symbolic practices inform the academic study of diasporas, sometimes unconsciously or without being remarked on? To study these phenomena is to engage in a dialogue that aims at refining the theoretical and methodological vocabulary and practice of truly transdisciplinary diaspora studies while attending to the imperative of specificity that inheres in this emerging field. The volume collects a range of analyses from social anthropology, history and ethnography to literary and film studies, all combining readings of individual symbolic practices with meta-theoretical reflections.
Rüdiger Ahrens, Universität Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany; Klaus Stierstorfer, Universität Münster, Münster, Germany.