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Intercultural
Lexicon

Tolerance

After the Nineties of the 20th Century tolerance returned to the centre stage in political thought, returning to fashion a concept that has certainly been central within the framework of political thought in modern times, but that appeared to have become a closed book with the French Revolution that...

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The United Nations

The Organization of the United Nations is the largest international organisation and in fact includes almost all the states existing on the planet. There are currently 192 member states. The seat of the UN is in New York and the current Secretary General is the South Korean Ban Ki-Moon..

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Christianity

Generally speaking, “Christianity” means the ensemble of churches, communities, sects, groups, but also the ideas and concepts following the preaching of he who is generally considered the founder of this religion, Jesus of Nazareth, a travelling preacher from Galilee, born between 4 B.

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Prejudice

All types of thought –also those of scholars and scientists – proceed according to established models, stereotypes and prejudices.

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Cosmopolitism

It is the philosophical and political concept that extends the ideas of citizenship and homeland to the whole world and to all humankind, opposing the particularity of nations and national states.

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Reset
A month of ideas.
Giancarlo Bosetti Editor-in-chief
Association for dialogue and intercultural understanding
Intercultural Lexicon
IT Tuesday, 7 November 2006

The Diaspora

Literally a diaspora is the “dispersion of a people leaving their homeland and migrating in various directions”. The word itself, which derives from Greek “to sow here and there”, already appeared in The War of the Peloponnesus by Thucydides, and was later used to indicate the dispersion of the first Christian communities in the days of the Roman Empire.


As from the 20th Century it began to be used in more univocal and specific manner to indicate the descendents of the Jews spread all over Europe and the world after being expelled from Palestine during the 1st Century A.D. The idea of a diaspora as the result of a catastrophe has in this sense become a real ideal-type. In addition to the Jewish diaspora, there have been other great Diasporas in history such as for example the Armenian or Kurdish ones.

During the last decades of the 20th Century the concept was however reused with different meanings, within the more generalised context of the globalisation process. Trans-national or global diasporas mean migratory movements that include new categories of people: expatriates, political refugees, immigrants, foreign residents, but also individuals moving for reasons involving study or work, developing multiple relations made possible by the technological revolution and characterised by the creation of multiple trans-national identities.

Scholars of the diaspora use a number of discriminating criteria in identifying a diaspora. In particular the sociologist of diasporas Robin Cohen has proposed six defining elements for the diaspora in globalisation: the presence of collective memories and a mythicising of the original homeland; the promoting of a movement for returning there; the presence of a strong ethnic basis created and enriched over a medium and long term period; the presence of difficult relations with the host country; a strong sense of inner solidarity as well as with co-ethnic groups also in other countries; a creative aptitude contributing to cultural and artistic development in hosting countries (Global Diasporas. An Introduction, Seattle, 1997).

Basically one can say that within globalisation, a diaspora occurs increasingly rather like a “knot of nets” and that the networking process results in new global and post-modern diasporas. All this also involves new forms and modalities in identity creating. Defined by Arjun Appadurai (Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimension of Globalization, Minneapolis, 1996) as “communities of feelings”, the identity of the Diasporas is mobile, nomadic, and also created through the collective imagination spread by the new media. In this sense one can state that the diasporas are increasingly difficult to define and to understand, although their importance as players in the globalisation process is not questionable.

From Bobbio, Matteucci, Pasquino, Political Dictionary, Utet, 2004.

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