chapter  7
12 Pages

The scale of diasporic cinema: Negotiating national and transnational cultural citizenship

WithJigna Desai

Emerging within academic and popular discourses as a dominant way of understanding transnational processes in the 1980s and 1990s, the concept of ‘diaspora’ has become a powerful discourse for producing knowledge about nation, migration, displacement and transnationalism. Sometimes understood empirically as a ‘deterritorialized’ national community or used synonymously with refugee, exile, guest worker and immigrant, diaspora has also become a critical concept for theorizing and imagining the broader socioeconomic, political, psychic and cultural modalities of migration and displacement. Popular, academic and state discourses employ ‘diaspora’ as a nomenclature empirically to describe migrant communities, but also to theorize the complex transnational social, affective, cultural and political processes that link those communities to South Asian nation states. Contemporary scholarship broadly frames the Indian diaspora as a transnational formation established and shaped by postcoloniality, racial formations and capitalism. The widespread and heterogeneous Indian diaspora in the global North and South has its ‘origins in the modern period and highlights its embeddedness in the three major world-historical forces that have shaped global modernity: capitalism, colonialism, and nationalism’ (Koshy 2008: 3). Consequently, as diasporic cinema is concerned with colonialism, capitalism and nationalism it can be used as a lens to examine global modernity.