The impact of diasporas within the UK and across the globe to be examined at conference

A one-day conference will be held at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 17 September, at which 18 papers will present five years of research projects carried out at Leicester and Oxford focusing on the dispersal of people from their homelands.

Researchers, students and the public are invited to attend the one-day event which will celebrate the culmination of work undertaken by the Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain programme at Leicester and the Oxford Diasporas Programme, both supported by funding from the Leverhulme Trust.

Speakers will include the principal investigators Professor Joanna Story (pictured) from the School of History and Professor Robin Cohen from the University of Oxford and Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo, will give the keynote address on ‘Culture as a commons: Osmosis, crossroads and the paradoxes of identity’.

The audience will engage in debate and curated visual displays around four themes: Home and Away; Remembering and Forgetting; Coming and Going; Lost and Found. Attendees will also receive free copies of programme publications, including Diasporas Reimagined, a series of thought-provoking snapshots illustrating the variety of research on diasporas, and an 80-page book summarising the work of the Impact of Diasporas projects. 

Professor Jo Story said: “Diasporas are an ancient phenomenon. Researchers studying past societies cannot speak to the migrants of distant times, and must investigate their experiences and the impact that their travels had on later generations through the textual and material culture that they left behind, and through their biological remains.

“But even this is only a part of the story. The impact of diaspora is as much what people hold in their minds about the bonds that connect them with distant people, distant places, and distant times, as about the objects or cultural practices that recall those connections. This was as true then as it is now.

“Over the past four years researchers based at the University of Leicester and the University of Nottingham have been working on genetic, linguistic, archaeological, literary and historical evidence to explore the impact of ancient diasporas on the making of Britain, and how these deep time diasporas impact on modern perceptions of identity and belonging.”