Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Diaspora as Missions

"While the British diaspora took the form of an empire, the Hadrami diaspora took the form of a religious mission. In this, the Hadrami diaspora had vastly greater universalist ambitions than did the British. It brought together not just peoples fromt he homeland, but peoples in destinations throughout the Indian Ocean as well. Here, Hadramis played a major role in the expansion of Isalam, and conversion stories in the region often begin with the arrival of a Harami religious figure. In their marriages with local women, Hadramis and their offspring became Swahilis, Gujaratis, Malabrais, Malays, Javanese, Filipinos. They became natives everywhere. At the same time, the men and their offspring continued to move throughout this oceanic space, for reasons of trade, study, family, pilgrimate, and politics. Throughout this space, a Hadrami could travel adn be put up by relatives, who might be Arab uncles married to foreign, local aunts. Many men had wives in each port. In the arc of coasts around the Indian Ocean, then, a skein of networks arose in which people socialized with distant foreigners as kinsmen and as Muslims. Like the British model, movements in the Hadrami diaspora brought together hitherto separated peoples, though not in an empire, but in a religion instead. Like the Jewish model, they began as a homogeneous diaspora, but like the British, they ended up a composite."

- Engseng Ho, "Empire through Diasporic Eyes: A View from the Other Boat".

A very inspiring passage, somehow. How I wish to take a time machine and go back to that time of age to witness such a great movement of diaspora.

梅ちゃん at 2:08:00 PM



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