Course code:



A - Advanced

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Lab fee:


Typically offered:

Upon occasion

Etymologically, the word “diaspora” is traced to the Greek dia meaning through, and speirein, meaning to scatter or to sow. Historically, the term has been associated with narratives of exile, displacement, and migration, and with a sustained relation to what is understood as an originary homeland. Although Jewish diaspora is often the implicit or explicit example through which diaspora is understood, the term has been important for other cultural, ethnic, and religious genealogies, as well as for recent efforts to address political questions posed by contemporary configurations of diasporic and displaced populations. In this course, we will use questions about Jewish difference as a point of departure for thinking about questions of diaspora, belonging, and unbelonging more generally. Diasporic relations raise questions about what it means to belong to political community, about borders between self and other and between groups, about difference internal and external to the polis, and about the concepts of home, homeland, nation and country. These questions in turn call attention to the relation between different figures and categories central to understandings of home and abroad, stasis and mobility, such as citizen and foreigner, refugee, asylum seeker. This course examines different historical examples of conditions and processes of diaspora by being attentive to conditions and figures of unbelonging. In so doing, we will consider contemporary problems of immigration, displacement, and asylum. We will be particularly attentive to questions about racialization, colonialism, nationalism, gender, sexuality, and sexual difference. The course is interdisciplinary, and we will draw on work in postcolonial studies, political theory, literature, anthropology, religion, and feminist theory. Students will be evaluated based on attendance, in-class participation, reading responses, and two short analytical essays.


Permission of instructor; ideally, students should have taken at least three courses in Human Studies and/or Arts and Design, or have other background in thinking about politics and representation. Students who have done independent research and internships that engage the topics addressed in the course description will also be prioritized.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.