Diasporic Communities: A Stew of Multiple Cultures

So an interesting thought has struck me this week in our discussions of nationalism and it’s evolving nature.  I apply this particularly to the development of “Chinatown’s”, “Little Italy’s”, “Little Havana’s”, and “El Barrios” in major United States cities.  As Karim H. Karim began discussing, the development of these diasporic communities across international borders could have transnational ramifications on telecommunication systems and nation-states.  Karim poses a fascinating point about the boundaries of nations and media technologies being challenged by diasporas, but I would like to take a closer look at these multi-cultural diasporic communities in the United States.

Karim looks at diasporas as single cultural entities, with one nation’s values, customs, and traditions being represented.  However, I would like to note that diasporas do not necessarily maintain this homogenization.  In these “Chinatowns” and “El Barrios”, multiple Southeastern Asian and Hispanic nations, respectively, co-exist, it is more than Italian, Chinese, and Cuban individuals.  Despite the moniker of each area, these communities encapsulate Koreans, Japanese, Italians, French, Cubans, Jamaicans, Panamanians, Brazilians, and Peruvians, respective to their own niches.  Individuals from across the globe are gathering in these large diasporic areas, mixing and stirring up their traditions and values with other cultures.  These melting pots are expanding and increasing their presence across the United States.

In response to the growing diasporic communities in the United States, the United States International Development Agency and United States Department of State has set up the “IdEA” program to get plugged into these communities and develop stronger bonds with nation-states.  It is through initiatives like “IdEA” that the United States can uncover the multicultural relations occurring in these diasporic communities and find ways to represent their diverse needs.

So next time any of us grad students wonder on down to Chinatown in DC, let’s take a second to realize how representative it is of all South East Asia.