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Diasporic & Divided Memories

Diasporic & Divided Memories


Dr. Ihab Saloul (UvA) & Dr. Tamara van Kessel (UvA)


Members of the research group

Prof. Ieme van der Poel (UvA)

Dr. Sarah de Mul (Ghent University)

Dr. Stef Craps (Ghent University)

Dr. Tarik Sabry (Westminster University)

Dr. Yasmina El Haddad (UvA)

Dr. Miryam Cherti (Institute for Public Policy Research, IPPR/ London)

Layal Ftouni (Westminster University)

Leila Cherribi (UvA, PhD candidate)

Marjan Nijborg (UvA, PhD candidate)


Description of the research program

This interdisciplinary research group seeks to explore the contemporary experience of Diasporas – communities who conceive of themselves as a national, ethnic, linguistic or other form of cultural and political construction of collective membership living outside of their 'homelands.' Diaspora is a concept that is far from being definitional. Despite problems and limitations in terminology, this notion may be defined with issues attached to it for a more complete understanding. The term, which may have its roots in Greek, is used customarily to apply to a historical phenomenon that has now passed to a period that usually supposes that Di­asporas are those who are settled permanently in a country other from where they were born. Thus, this term has lost its dimension of irreversibility and of exile.

In order to increase our understanding of Diasporas and their impact on both the receiving countries and their respective homes left behind, the research group will explore Diaspora’s cultural and artistic expressions: Do Diasporas continue to exist and is the world economy, media and policies sending different messages about Diaspora to future generations? Regarding the latter issue, the research group will address pertinent questions about diasporic memory such as:

  • How does migration bring individuals to deal with multiple levels of heritage and culture? 
  • How does an intensified migration age and exile, coupled with broader and more flexible terrains of social structures, give Diaspora communities a window of opportunity to redefine their social position in both the country of origin and the host country?
  • What are some of the ways to identity and define the subject in changing political boundaries where cultural interactions are amplified?
  • What are the processes of social formation and reformation?
  • How are spaces and places transformed in contemporary imaginaries through forms migration, mobility and/or immobility?
  • What new cross- 'ethnoscapes' and cross-'ideoscapes' are emerging in?
  • In what new methods can we capture the web of forces that influences Diasporas at the same time?


Associated Research Project

  • “Representations of the Jewish Diaspora from the Maghreb” (Ieme van der Poel)

This project engages with the reimaginings of Judeo-Maghrebi memory in contemporary literature, graphic novels and film. The massive departure of North-African Jews that peaked in the years 1958-1962 gave rise to a variegated, transnational body of texts (and films) that are bound up with the loss of the Sephardic Maghrebi cultural heritage. It invites us to investigate the complexity of the relation between home and exile with regard to these Jewish minorities, and to rethink the theoretical assumptions on migration and exile in relation to cultural memory. By furthering reflections upon the theme of "absence" versus "annihilation" (of an ethnic minority and its culture), it also addresses the ways in which this particular strand of Maghrebi literature intersects with contemporary American-Jewish literature in particular.


Envisaged results

Journal articles & book chapters, 2 monograph, 1-2 edited volume, workshops & expert meetings, seminars and public lectures, grant proposal (3-4 PhD dissertations, 2-3 Post-docs)


Work plan and time schedule

2014 – 2018


Societal relevance

The motivations of studying Diaspora are numerous. Most prominently, studying Diasporas offers an innovative and important perspective on various cultural practices, artistic and musical creations, intellectual outputs and specific religious practices which have made a significant cultural and political impact across the world.