Diaspora on the Web

by A. Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear

Although diasporas have been part and parcel of our faith heritage since the Jewish people moved to Egypt in the time of Joseph, it is only in the past decade or so that an explicit framing of diaspora in relation to missions has been proposed. For this edition of Missions on the Web, we have gathered web-based resources that will be helpful in continuing the development of “diaspora missiology.”

Diaspora is a broad category incorporating areas of study ranging from migration (immigration and emigration) to transnationalism and globalization. Because it is so broad, there are far more resources available than we can catalog. To keep things manageable, we focus exclusively on resources specifically designated with “diaspora” as the orientation; the links to those we discuss are on our corresponding page on MisLinks (www.mislinks.org/topics/diaspora.htm1).

Secular Networks and Organizations
In the past several decades, a number of organizations (secular and Christian) were created to understand and serve the reality of diasporas around the world. The Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies (www.soas.ac.uk/migrationdiaspora) was established in 2007 to “co-ordinate activities across the school and establish collaborative links with other institutions both nationally and internationally.” Part of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, they sponsor roughly thirty events each year focusing on multiple topics.

The International Institute for Diaspora Studies (www.diasporastudies.org)—part of the Zoryan Institute in Canada—publishes the journal Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, which seeks to provide analysis of the dynamics of diaspora, from events to communities.

The International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas (ISSCO; www.issco.info) is “a scholarly, non-political, non-profit professional society of individuals and institutions interested in and committed to the study of Chinese overseas.” The society focuses on research, publications, and conferences focused on the Chinese diaspora.

Another group focusing on the Chinese diaspora, The World Confederation of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies (www.overseaschineseconfederation.org/main/index.php) is an “organization of research institutes, library collections, academic societies, university programs, museums, archives, and individual scholars involved in the field of Overseas Chinese studies.”

One of the more interesting and substantial sets of resources for diaspora research and study is Wikipedia. Their general article on diaspora (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaspora) introduces the term, outlines a variety of historical and contemporary diasporas, and links to numerous additional Wikipedia articles and external links. Perhaps the most valuable links for those who want to examine a specific diaspora are the “Category: Diasporas” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Diasporas) and “List of diasporas” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_diasporas) pages. Together, these two pages link to more than 250 Wikipedia articles, each focused on a particular example. From these two lists we culled forty-five examples with missional significance to post on our page.

One example is the Palestinian diaspora page (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_diaspora), which indicates that half of the roughly nine to eleven million strong Palestinian population lives outside historic Palestine. Many of those who fled over the past few decades are from centuries-old Christian communities, decimating Christian representation among Palestinians who have not dispersed, resulting in massive missional challenges.  

Secular Resources
In addition to the networks, there are other secular sites providing significant resources for those attending to diaspora missions.

General. The United Nations Search page (www.un.org/en/search/) gives over 1,800 results for a search on “Diaspora” on the UN site (our Mislinks link brings you directly to the search results).

Africa. Hosted on Stanford University’s site, the “Africa South of the Sahara” page provides links to significant resources related to African studies. For our purposes, the “African Diaspora” topic page is an outstanding resource (www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/african-diaspora.html). Paralleling our MisLinks approach, the site finds and posts links to a variety of resources rather than posting the resources themselves. You can link to topical resources, such as African Diaspora Journals/Magazines (www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/african-diaspora/african-diaspora-journals.html), and regional resources, such as African Diaspora in Asia/Pacific (www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/african-diaspora/african-diaspora-asia-pacific.html).

The Columbia University Libraries African Diaspora resources page offers numerous similar resource links (www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/africa/cuvl/diaspora.html).

Finally, the African Diaspora Studies website (www.africandiasporastudies.com), part of the Florida Africana Studies Consortium, offers significant educational resources related to the African diaspora.

Asia. The Asian Diaspora (Time Asia; www.time.com/time/asia/2003/journey/graphics/migration_map.html) presents a visually appealing image linking to numerous news stories of migration from Asia to the rest of the world.

Literatures of the Asian Diaspora (complit.la.psu.edu/asiandiaspora/index.htm) is an academic resource that resulted from a two-year collaborative project by faculty in the Penn State University system “in order to educate ourselves to more fully implement the teaching of Asian and Asian-diasporic literatures within our multi-campus system.” The site provides access to resources useful for academic study, but does not appear to have been updated since the conclusion of the project in 2004.  

The South/Southeast Asia Diaspora library (Berkeley; www.lib.berkeley.edu/SSEAL/SouthAsia/resource.html) offers resources ranging from bibliographic guides to a searchable database of projects related to South Asian diaspora. Unfortunately, the project listings offer little more than descriptions of the projects.

Europe & North America. The Diasporas, Migration and Identities Programme (www.diasporas.ac.uk/about_us.htm) offers a valuable Case Studies Archive (www.diasporas.ac.uk/casestudies_archive.htm) with almost two dozen case studies. Note, however, that the links for each case study are to images related to the cases rather than the research itself.

Mobilizing Diaspora Entrepreneurship for Development (USAID; www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/
) is a paper focused on the impact of entrepreneurs within diasporas and finding ways to identify and empower them to generate economic development for their home countries. They note, for example, that, “One study of Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley…shows that companies founded by immigrants employed 45,000 workers and generated $52 billion in revenue in 2006” (p. 3). They subsequently explore how to mobilize this energy toward the entrepreneurs’ countries of origin.

Christian Networks and Organizations
East Asia Diaspora Forum (EADF; www.globalconnections.co.uk/forumsEast %2BAsia%2B Diaspora%2B Forum/EastAsiaDiasporaForum) was developed to help individuals and organizations understand missional “key issues for those working with East Asian Diaspora communities in the UK.” The best set of resources is the Forum Papers (www.globalconnections.co.uk/forumsEast+Asia+Diaspora+Forum/forumpapers), collected from the EADF-sponsored forums.

The Ethnic America Network (www.ethnicamerica.com) is “a coalition of ministries encouraging local churches to share Christ’s love with the growing ethnic diversity in our communities.” They focus on “mapping the peoples of the world as they locate in North America and matching them with churches interested in ethnic ministry.” Summits have been held since 2001, with resources from each available online. A major resource is the “Ethnic America Database” (www.peoplegroups.info), which provides information of ethnic and migrant demographics for the U.S. and Canada. Drawn from the 2000 Census data, a search on non-English languages spoken at home for Chicago, Naperville, and Joliet (Illinois) yields 99 languages (from Ojibwa—15 speakers—to Spanish—1,206,765 speakers).

The Filipino International Network (FIN; www.fin-online.org), founded in 1995, describes itself as “a catalytic movement of Christians committed to motivate and mobilize Filipinos globally to partner for worldwide missions.” A significant part of the economy of the Philippines is driven by Filipinos who find jobs in international settings and repatriate money to family staying behind. This ranges from domestic workers in the Middle East to owners and managers of multinational corporations. The faith of these workers did not provide the initial motivation for this movement, but over the past several decades Filipino churches and agencies have recognized that a large tentmaking international mission force can be catalyzed for missional thinking through vocation—but only if they are trained and mobilized. The site provides several resources to help Filipino Christians living abroad be vibrant witnesses for Christ as they sojourn abroad.

The Lausanne Diasporas Leadership Team (www.gatheredscattered.com) states that its vision “is to seek to motivate and mobilize the Body of Christ globally to reach the diaspora peoples for Christ; also to specifically mobilize Christians in the diaspora to reach their host nations.” Thus, it focuses on both ends of the diasporic world.  

The last Christian diasporic network we present is Reaching the Nations Among Us (www.reachingthenationsamongus.org), a coalition of over one hundred churches and agencies gathered as “a bridge-building effort aimed at connecting American Christians with their neighbors from other countries.” They offer multiple ministry resources and materials, including online training, DVDs, books, and multilingual tracts.

NSM Knowledge Base
The Network for Strategic Mission has several topical areas related to diaspora mission. The main topic, “Diaspora” (www.strategicnetwork.org/index.php?loc=kb&view=b&fto=4511&&sf=Y), has seventeen articles. However, there are multiple sub-categories, such as “Chinese diaspora” (twelve articles; www.strategicnetwork.org/index.php?loc=kb&view=b&fto=2938&sf=Y) and “Indian diaspora” (eleven articles; www.strategicnetwork.org/index.php?loc=kb&view=b&fto=3676&sf=Y). It is also helpful to check out topics such as “Immigrant populations” (twenty-four articles; www.strategicnetwork.org/index.php?loc=kb&view=b&fto=3323&sf=Y) and “Migration” (nineteen articles; www.strategicnetwork.org/index.php?loc=kb&view=b&fto=644&sf=Y).

The MissionInfoBank (a GMI project; www.missioninfobank.org) offers a growing collection of resources for researchers. A search in the library (www.missioninfobank.org/library) yields thirteen results, including twelve PowerPoint presentations and a Word document. Downloads are only available to members, but it is free to join.

Global Missiology.org
Global Missiology (www.globalmissiology.org) is an online journal produced out of Western Seminary. The July 2007 issue focused on the theme of diaspora missiology (ojs.globalmissiology.org/index.php/english/issue/view/15), with five articles on directly-related issues. They also have a helpful Resource Links page focusing on diaspora (www.globalmissiology.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11&catid=101&Itemid=10) with more than one hundred links to useful sites.

MisLinks Resources: Diaspora Bibliographies
With recent innovations in electronic databases, it has become relatively easy to develop significant bibliographies on just about any topic. To illustrate this, we have compiled two bibliographies on diaspora. The first, “300 Recent Diaspora Articles” (www.mislinks.org/papers/Diaspora300.pdf), represents a small fraction of the collated results of searching two databases (ATLA Religion Index and Academic Search Premier) for results from 2000 to 2011.

The second, “References on Diaspora from ATLA Religion Index” (www.mislinks.org/papers/DiasporaBiblio.pdf), is a bibliography of every article available in full-text from ATLA Religion Index. Our readers who have active memberships in a Christian institutional library that subscribes to this database of religious journals will be able to find all of these articles online in full text through ATLA Religion Index.

A final resource to consider is our own MisLinks “power search” using Google but confined to mission-focused resources (www.mislinks.org/info/searchurls.htm). A search on “diaspora” through this interface yields 119 results. While small in number, they are higher in quality for missional purposes than a complete Google search.

In a world that is from everywhere to everywhere, many minister either as part of a diaspora or in settings with diaspora people. We cannot afford to overlook the realities or the resources readily available if we want to honorably represent Christ among the nations. As always, we encourage our readers to send us an email if you find helpful resources that we have overlooked.

1. All URLs start with http:// unless otherwise noted.


A. Scott Moreau is editor of EMQ and a professor in the Intercultural Studies department at Wheaton College Graduate School (Wheaton, Ill.). His email address is A.S.Moreau@wheaton.edu, and the Wheaton Intercultural Studies Department web address is wheaton.edu/intr.

Mike O’Rear is the president of Global Mapping International (Colorado Springs, Colo.), which is dedicated to providing access to information for church and mission leaders, especially in the Majority World. His email address is mike@gmi.org, and the GMI web address is gmi.org.

EMQ, Vol. 47, No. 3, pp. 366-370. Copyright  © 2011 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.


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