History 101.005

Fall 2007
Instructor (text): 
129 Barrows
Day & Time: 
TuTh 2-3:30
Erik R. Scott is Ph.D. candidate in History. His research looks at migration, diaspora, and empire in Europe and the Middle East, focusing in particular on the changing occupational specializations and cultural stereotypes of diaspora groups from the Caucasus in the Soviet Union.

This seminar will look at the experience of diaspora communities from a global comparative perspective. Modernization, long thought to entail the formation of ethnically homogenous nation-states, just as often created novel opportunities for migration, occupational specialization, and renewed feelings of attachment among ethnic communities living outside their homelands. These opportunities were seized upon by ethnic groups that had long lived in diaspora, such as the Jews and the Armenians, as well as by newer diaspora communities linked to imperial and commercial expansion, such as the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, the Indians in East Africa, the Lebanese Christians in Latin America, and the Georgians in the Soviet Union, to name just a few.

Students will write an original research paper focusing on the historical experience of a particular diaspora community chosen by them beforehand. Papers might examine how these communities developed over time and found specialized niches entertaining, fighting for, trading with, and sometimes leading the larger societies, nation-states, and empires of which they had become integral members. While the first weeks of the course will be spent discussing a selection of secondary literature on diaspora, students will devote the bulk of their time to primary source research. Students will be encouraged to draw not only upon the vast collection of relevant memoirs, published letters, travelers' accounts, newspapers, and fiction available at Berkeley's library, but also to move beyond the library to explore family history, oral history, and the records of local diaspora community centers in the Bay Area and beyond.