Key debates in African Diaspora Studies

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  1. What are some of the key debates in African Diaspora Studies?
  1. Discuss the role of evidence in the origins of humankind and the Bantu expansion.
  1. Why should we care about the Moors in Spain dating back to the medieval era?
  1. “Africans were only slaves in the Indian Ocean.” Do you agree or disagree and explain why?


Key debates in African Diaspora Studies


 African Diaspora, has been recognized as a field of study and scholarly work is at its full swing to research different issues related to it (Patterson and Kelley 2000).  There are a variety of topics that come under debate when African Diaspora is studied. The broader range of the debated topics may include the individual identities of the Africans who migrated out of Africa voluntarily or as slaves, their cultural identities, historical representation and their struggle for their social and economic rights. It has been a long run for the African Diaspora to get themselves recognized as equal citizens in the communities they have been living in for centuries. And still there is much work to be done. Researcher have been studying historical evidence to look deep into the lives of African Diaspora over the history and know more about their life struggle in inhospitable environments which they were exposed to. In this essay I would briefly describe some of the key issues in African Diaspora Studies.

Individual identity

African diasporic writers focused on debating about the overall citizenship rights of the Blacks in the western countries in the first half of the twentieth century (Wright 2004). This had been an approach that ignored the individual identity and stressed on the collective instead. It was the later half of the twentieth century when scholars and writers started to debate African Diaspora as individuals and not just as a collective set of people (Gordon and Anderson 1999). African diaspora did belong to the African continent but they all did not belong to same cultures. These cultural differences had been debated to be an agent of individual differences between the African Diaspora from different geographical locations within Africa that effected the way they think as individuals and has been debated among scholarly circles.

All African Diaspora did not migrate to other countries as slaves. There are many African who migrated outside of Africa due to social and economic reasons. The individual identity differences between voluntary migration outside of Africa and those who migrated non-voluntarily has also been under debate in the studies of African Diaspora.

Ethnography of African Diaspora

As I mentioned earlier that all African diaspora did not belong to an exact same culture from Africa. Debaters have been trying to get this fact recognize to differentiate between the diverse cultures of African Diaspora. For this reason, ethnography of African Diaspora had been advocated and debated (Gordon and Anderson 1999). This ethnography can be helpful in understanding and differentiating the identity politics by the African Diaspora who have different roots back in Africa. These ethnography studies also provide an insight into the different literary, ritual and religious practices that different African Diaspora recognizes themselves with.

Identity Politics

The formation of a political identity by African Diaspora has been much debated in United States and South America. The main focus of these debates has been the formation of the political movements of the African Diaspora and how it has affected their civil rights and political evolution. Religion has been an important ingredient in shaping the political identities of African Diaspora (Kokot, Tölölyan and Alfonso 2004).

Role of Women

Women have always played a unique role in the history of African Diaspora. The studies of African Diaspora looks at this role from different perspectives. The political role of the women has been debated with a special consideration of the African Diasporic Women feminist movement (Reagon 1986). Research suggests that these women had two problems to face simultaneously, first was being black and second was being a women in a masculine society (COLLINS 2000).


African Diaspora research is still an evolving field of specialized studies.  Many related issues have been identified and researched and many are still to be addressed.  I would like to stress that to make accurate suggestions, scientific models of study should be adopted and developed if needed. African Diaspora is playing an important role in the political, social and economic arenas of many countries. There is always a need to understand their present in the light of their history to effectively engage with them.


COLLINS, P. H. 2000. “Gender, Black Feminism, And Black Political Economy”. The ANNALS             Of The American Academy Of Political And Social Science 568 (1): 41-53.             doi:10.1177/0002716200568001005.

Gordon, Edmund T. and Mark Anderson. 1999. “The African Diaspora: Toward An Ethnography            Of Diasporic Identification”. The Journal Of American Folklore 112 (445): 282.          doi:10.2307/541363.

Kokot, Waltraud, Khachig Tölölyan, and Carolin Alfonso. 2004. Diaspora, Identity, And   Religion. London: Routledge.

Patterson, Tiffany Ruby and Robin D. G. Kelley. 2000. “Unfinished Migrations: Reflections On The African Diaspora And The Making Of The Modern World”. African Studies Review            43 (1): 11. doi:10.2307/524719.

Reagon, Bernice Johnson. 1986. “African Diaspora Women: The Making Of Cultural Workers”.   Feminist Studies 12 (1): 77. doi:10.2307/3177984.

Wright, Michelle M. 2004. Becoming Black. Durham: Duke University Press.