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The Concept

In today’s world, migration is one of the most distinctive features of globalization. A diaspora, a term originally applied to groups migrating from ancient homelands, is a group of people migrating from the same origin to multiple destinations. While we often think of sovereign states as the place people migrate to, the actual locations they become enmeshed in are more frequently cities within a given country. Diasporas make unique contributions to the economic, political, and cultural life of urban spaces. The diasporic connections within a place generate the notions we have about global cities. Within a destination city, any number of diasporic communities create a constellation of links between the city and the homeland or with diasporas located in other cities and nations.

The Diasporas and Cities working group will explore the relationship between migrating peoples and the urban spaces they live and work in and thereby help assess the ways cities and diasporas become mutually constituted. Moving beyond an accounting of mere “urban diversity,” this project aims to evaluate and interpret the transnational dynamics of and between different diasporas within and across cities. This project is global in scope, but also aims to spotlight the structure and dynamism of Hartford’s diasporas. Scholars from several disciplines with expertise in particular diasporas or related topics will be invited to join the working group.


The Diaspora and Cities working group presents, potentially, a unique research lens for considering diasporas, a geographically global phenomenon, in urban space and thus achieve a more fundamental and broader understanding of the global in contemporary cities. Academic research on urban populations is extensive, drawing from many disciplines. Urban demography is relevant to governance, development, environmental sustainability, health, culture and other processes.


A Sustainable Global Cities Initiative Working Group


Jason Chang, History; Asian and Asian American Studies
Bob Wilson, Public Policy; Director, Sustainable Global Cities Initiative


Mohamad Alkadry, Chair, Public Policy
Garth Myers, Global Studies, Trinity College
Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, History; Director, UConn Hartford Campus
Avinoam Patt, Judaic Studies
Charles Venator Santiago, Political Science; El Instituto
Fiona Vernal, History
Victor Zatsepine, History; Asian and Asian American Studies

Resources for Group Members

Workshop Description
A one page (double-sided) description of the Diasporas and Cities inaugural workshop, held on 3/4/2020.
Demographic Characteristics of Hartford County
A series of charts compiled using data from the U.S. Census. Distributed during the 3/4/2020 workshop.
World Map
Blank full-page world map used during 3/4/2020 workshop. A link to the compilation map of all participants' areas of diasporic studies is forthcoming.
Welcoming Economies Playbook
"Welcoming Economies Playbook: Strategies for Building an Inclusive Local Economy," co-produced by Welcoming America and Global Detroit. Excellent resource with practical strategies for inclusive economic development in urban and rural regions.

display of workshop materialsworkshop photodrawing on a mapman holding map

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