SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

African and Asian Diasporas in the Contemporary World

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Full Year

This is the year-long core course for the MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies (for option courses, see African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World 15PANH010, Term 1, and African and Asian Cultures in Britain 15PANH009, Term 2).

The aim of this course is to take an interdisciplinary approach in order to chart the development of transnational African and Asian cultures in the world today. In recent years, a wealth of new literature has appeared on issues of globalisation, migration and diasporas, adding to classic texts such as Sidney Mintz’ Sweetness and Power (1986) and Eric Wolf’s Europe and the People Without History (1982).

This broad body of work attempts to reconceptualise the world beyond the boundaries of the nation-state, in terms that redefine the experience of colonialism and the relationship of Europe with its’ ‘others’. It places an emphasis on cultural flows and international migration as an integral part of human history, where difference and identity are mediated and renegotiated through historical processes.

The course draws on established bodies of work as well contemporary literature on migration studies, issues of space and identity, transnationalism, postcolonialism, and theories of diaspora, and globalisation. By exploring the emergence of international African and Asian diasporas through labour migrations, trade, and displacement, the course incorporates a strong historical perspective as well as contemporary issues.

Drawing on historical memory and personal narratives of slavery and indentured labour, the course charts the changing processes of international migration and the subsequent emerging forms of identity in diasporic communities in the modern world. The course will encourage students to examine concepts such as ‘diaspora’ and ‘postcolonialism’ from a critical perspective, and to challenge the ‘new orthodoxies’ in diaspora and migration studies.


This course is for students enrolled on the MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies and is also offered on the MA Anthropological Research Methods.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Aims and Objectives

  • To critically examine important areas of contemporary social theory which deals with issues of migration, globalisation, the postcolonial world, and cultural transformations.
  • To ground students in the historical basis of these issues
  • To explore ideas of representation in relation to identity and experience

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will develop an appropriate knowledge base
  • Students will develop an awareness of methodological issues in the study of global cultures and postcolonial theory.
  • Students will develop appropriate analytical skills.
  • Students will develop appropriate research and communication skills.
  • At the end of the course, students will be able to undertake independent research and pursue several pathways in diaspora studies.


Classes will consist of a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar. Lectures will incorporate a broad theoretical and historical perspective as well as specific anthropological examples.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules