chapter  6
Pages 20

We are aware, however, that there is no necessary association between nearness and significance. We can live and interact with and be near people to whom we feel distant or from whom we feel estranged (warring neighbours are a case in point). We can have close relationships (in the sense of intimate relationships, relationships with people we love, relationships which are important to us) even if we are separated by oceans and continents and see one another only infrequently. People throughout history have been forced into diasporic relationships-the nineteenth century, for instance, saw massive population movements in and from Europe; the Irish potato famine caused a massive exodus, as did rural poverty in many other countries. Whole peoples have been and are driven out and excluded from territories by armed force and have had to reconstruct their lives as diasporic and dispossessed. England in the twentieth century has not been invaded, occupied by armed forces, riven by civil strife or blighted by plague or famine and it may be a particularly English privilege to hold in esteem the ‘close-knit’ local community: many people in the world have not had the privilege or, because trapped by poverty, might regard it anyway as an overrated idea.