Okpewho, Isidore, and Nkiru Nzegwu, eds. The New African Diaspora. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2009. ix + 531 pages. Paper, $29.95.
As a cultural and regional geographer, this reviewer is always looking for materials that capture the diffusion of people and ideas across space; the spatial distribution of cultures and ethnicities; and, the reasons for that spatial phenomena. The New African Diaspora offers a collection of essays that examine that distribution from different perspectives, including that from a geographic perspective. The editors of this volume have done a solid job of putting together this group of essays to show the evolution, not only of the diffusion itself, but of the academic thought being applied to the study of current diaspora patterns out of Africa. This volume includes essays that explore the reasons behind the modern diaspora; the diffusion patterns of the people as they move into new cultures; and, some of the short- and long-term demographic and cultural affects that result from this modern diaspora.
The New African Diaspora is the second collection of essays devoted to the diffusion patterns of Africans into the global context. The first study, The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities (1999), concentrated on the forced migration of Africans to the New World. The volume under review focuses on the voluntary migration patterns of Africans and those of African descent in the modern world, specifically across the western Atlantic Ocean. A recurrent theme that captures a geographer's attention immediately is that of globalization. Several of the essayists point out that in modern diffusion patterns much of the diaspora could not have happened as it has without the global context of modern technology. Today's speed of transportation and the need for a global work force at all socio-economic levels has created a transnational and transcultural people. People emigrate from Africa to seek better economic futures in the Western world. However, these migrants are able to stay in touch with those back home, and often travel to visit them in a way they could not in previous migrations.
Many fields in the social sciences can benefit from this book. Diffusion patterns and the affects of that diffusion of both people and ideas and cultures can be shown on maps in a classroom, but the effects of that diffusion in personal terms is harder to communicate. Essays on the literary expression of...