CTS week 3 – Diasporas

How to Tame a Wild Tongue – Gloria Anzaldua:

The simplest definition of a Diaspora is the dispersion of people from their original homeland. There are many reasons why someone might leave their place of birth and even move across borders. The search for a better life is often a main cause, as people are driven away by poverty as well as religious and cultural persecutions. It is reported (BBC, 2017) that between 1850-1914 over 50 million europeans crossed Atlantic in the hope of improved living and this figure continues to rise today.

However, the worldwide effects of globalisation in contemporary society has allowed an even greater increase in diaspora figures. Along with these figures there also comes a sense of blurring between cultural borders which makes it difficult for people to determine a place they feel they can truly call home. Having a strong cultural identity is incredibly important within a diaspora as it provides a sense of belonging but through continued practice of things such as tradition, religion and language, culture can be obtained. When migrants move away from their original countries, it is common for them to form communities with people from similar backgrounds “in the absence of a shared knowledge or a familiar terrain” (Ahmed 1999: 331). An example within London is the Punjabi community found in Southall. This diaspora community has attracted so many members since its foundation that now even the train station sign is bilingual in both English and Gurmukhī, due to the sheer size of this diaspora.

‘How to Tame a Wild Tongue’ is a fiery and feisty extract from the book ‘Borderlands’ (1987) written by Gloria Anzaldua. Within this, Anzaldua, who is of Mexican descent, talks of the cultural problems she’s experienced whilst living in a modern day American society, as well as the difficulties she has faced surrounding her own national identity. Anzaldua speaks passionately about how the language we speak is such an important part of our own identity. She also explores the prejudice many people experience for speaking what she refers to as their ‘mother tongues’. The Spanish term ‘Pocho’ is used to describe a cultural traitor for speaking English and in some cases is specifically referred to as “the oppressors language”. Anzaldua discusses how many different languages within a single culture have naturally developed over time. When people find they’re unable to fit into certain categories they adapt and create new means to communicate. Quoted from the text, (Anzaldua, 1987) Anzaldua says this is a way in which people “identify as distinct people”. In such a complex society, evolution of language is inevitable and from this a hierarchy of languages is created, that can even cause conflict within own cultures. In some cases when people use and speak in an adapted version of their traditional language, many members of that society feel they are damaging their culture. An good example quoted from the text (ibid, 1987) explains “Chicano Spanish is considered the purist and by most Latinos deficient, a mutilation of Spanish.”

Anzaldúa, G. (1987) ‘‘How to Tame a Wild Tongue’, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.  Aunt Lute, pp 33-45.

BBC (2017) Why do they speak Welsh in South America. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z9kr9j6#z3gvgk7 (Accessed: 7 November 2017).

Kaye, A. (2017). How to Tame a Wild Tongue- Summary and Response. Available at: https://brainstormingideasimprovingeducation.com/2014/08/11/how-to-tame-a-wild-tongue-summary-and-response/ (Accessed: 29 October 2017).

Mindock, C. (2017) Gloria E Anzaldúa: 5 facts about the cultural scholar you need to know. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/gloria-e-anzald-a-who-is-she-life-career-google-doodle-today-cultural-scholar-immigration-borders-a7968441.html (Accessed: 25 October 2017).

‘Southall railway station’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southall_railway_station (Accessed: 8 November 2017).


Diaspora ‘roots and routes’ – CTS week 3

diaspora = dispersion of people

e.g. irish pubs found all over the world. more irish people in rest of world than in ireland itself (irish population 7x bigger overseas than in ireland)

771,572 people born in ireland were reported to be living in 72 countries in 2013 – Kenny 2015

st patricks day – strong sense of belonging, global event celebrating irish identity

welsh community in argentina – an example of an european diaspora in the americas

why do people leave their homelands???  in search of a better life. driven away from poverty, hunger , religious and cultural persecution

“between 1850-1914 more than 50 million europeans crossed atlantic in search of better living.”

cape verde – group of islands off west coast africa , population 500,000

15 century portuguese colony, slave entrepôt established on formerly uninhabited islands

architecture typical portuguese as used to be portuguese colony

TATE BRITAIN – exhibition about black diaspora in london 60/70’s

diasporas based on memory and identity

generational differences and belonging

where is home ?? where u live or where you’re from?

do the members of your original homeland accept u back or are u seen as different/less than

michael bruneau (2010)

how is a diaspora a specific category nd different from migration in general??

bruneau’s defining characteristics

– dispersal under pressure (disaster/perseuction/catastrophe/poverty/famine etc)

-uses previously established and existing migratory chains

-an imagined community, relying on a collective narrative that links it to a territory and to a memory (anderson 1982)

  • networks of relations through which exchanges(people, goods, inforation) take place.
  • an experience of migration involving multiple generations
  • diaspora tends to incorporate cultural, professional, religious and political associations that sets it apart as an autonomous social entity from both host nations and ‘homeland’

‘how to tame a wild tongue’ (1987) reading:

talks about how language is such an important part of identity and who you are

the reading itself is written in two languages – english and spanish

look on youtube for video – linton kwesi johnson, it dread inna inglan

paul gilroy books ‘aint no black in the union jack’ & ‘the black atlantic’

new malden – little korea

southhall – indian community

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s