Scientific coordination of the programme :
Françoise Le Jeune and Virginie Chaillou-Atrous
Organisation : CRHIA (Centre for Research in International History and History of the Atlantic) – Université de Nantes (France)
The Centre for Research in International History and history of the Atlantic (CRHIA) of the University of Nantes (France) is launching an international research group DIASCOM along with a research programme working on the study of the diasporas born out of the slave trade and indentured service in the long colonial context, and on the communities formed by the descendants of these African and Asian communities, in the decolonization context.
The aim of this five-year project in global history (2020-2025) is to examine the agency of the diasporic groups born out of forced displacement, in colonial and post-colonial contexts.
In the first part of the DIASCOM programme, we would like to study the socio-economic, political and cultural strategies developed by the numerous ethnic groups deported by European nations from their home country, forming diasporas and diasporic communities over the years, in order to survive, adapt and take root in the colonies of the Atlantic, Indian or Pacific oceans, in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries ?
Then in the second part of the DIASCOM programme, we would like to examine the historical and political contexts of the more recent phenomenon of the return of the Afro-descendant or Asian-descendant diasporas, as well as their sometime forced re-displacements in the 20th and 21st centuries (the so-called double diasporas). Indeed in many cases, some of these diasporic groups considered a return to the home country in the wake of decolonization, while others were forcefully uprooted, in the context of independence wars for instance, seeking refuge in the home country or in Europe. In the historical context of decolonisation, what were/are the socio-economic, political or cultural strategies used by the new diasporas formed by the descendants of past indentured servants and slaves, when they decide to stay put, or rather to return to their home country, or to seek refuge in European metropoles.
Aware that many research groups and networks are already at work on similar topics related to migrations and diasporas around the globe (« Diaspora, Migration and Identities », Diaspolinks…), the DIASCOM programme chooses to focus primarily on the historicization of the forced migrations that gave birth to diasporas in the colonial context and on the social, geographical and cultural evolution of these diasporic populations who bear the legacy of indenture and slavery in the post-colonial era. A series of publications (online and printed) is planned.
We begin our networking strategy by setting up a first two-day conference in Nantes (France), on November 21-22, 2020. We wish to address one less studied aspect in diasporic studies: Diaspora formation in the wake of indenture.
We hope to gather together specialists of socio-ethnic groups transported out of Africa and Asia for indentured service in European colonies at large, in North and South Americas, in the West Indies, in the Indian or Pacific oceans.
For step 1# of the DIASCOM programme (the two-day conference in November 2020) we hope to develop some comparative analyses of diasporas born out of indenture, including the descendants of the first transported labourers, and their « settlement » strategy in the colonies.
Our perspective in studying their agency is clearly transnational and it aims at filling up the gap in the current literature on the indenture legacy in diasporic studies.
At the end of that first conference, we wish to establish a network of international scholars to take the programme to its next steps and to solicit the support of sponsors.
We intend to gather a number of researchers with whom we will develop further historical research on diasporic formations, diasporic communities, displacement and redisplacement of new generations, or on the memory and legacy of indenture and slavery within the recent generations of descendants.
Step 2# of the DIASCOM programme (a two-day conference in November 2021) will focus on the return or on the redisplacement of the descendants of the indenture diasporas in the 20th and 21st century.
The following steps (2022-2023) will extend our research to other forced migrations, beginning with the slave trade and the examination of the slavery legacy among the Afro-descendant communities at large.
Then our final stage (2024-2025) intends to discuss all diasporas born out of forced migration or traumatic experiences in the course of the 19th and 20th century (including European diasporas), and their return to the home country out of choice or because of forced displacement in the 20th and 21st centuries. We also wish to compare the policies set up by European countries to deal with the return of these ethnic diasporas born out of European imperialism or out of traumatic circumstances in Europe, in the 20th and 21st centuries.