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Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
African Diaspora is a bilingual (English and French) scholarly journal that studies how African cultures and societies shape, and have been shaped, by both historical and current diasporic and transnational movements. The editors seek articles that examine how and when diasporas are created and how transnational connections are made and evolve by individuals operating within socio-political and historical contexts, and are especially interested in original research. Connections studied here “range from musical styles in the Indian Ocean, to economic and educational relations in Russia, forms of political power and ideology in the presence of Ghanaian nationals in Germany, gender and sexual relations of Zimbabweans in Great Britain, and family structures and religious expressions in various forms of Senegalese mobility to Europe,” revealing “varying socio-economic interests and aspirations of people that partake in these forms of mobility.” The submission guidelines note that, in addition to articles describng original research, the journal “also publishes short notes, communications, book reviews, and occasional thematic issues, as well as encourages policy related debates.”
The latest volume, Volume 7, is a Special Issue entitled, The Difference that Crisis Makes: Diasporic Entanglements with Home and the Case of Zimbabwe, 2014. It contains the articles, “Not Just a Personal Decision,” (an exploration of “the interplay between individual decisions and wider collective pressures over return migration among Zimbabweans in the UK”), “Cross-Border Couriers as Symbols of Regional Grievance?,” “‘The Pots on Our Roads’” (an article discussing the role of the ‘diaspora fleet’ in Harare’s urban commuter system), “Majoni-joni – Wayward Criminals or a Good Catch?” (“how cross-border flows of young Zimbabwean men across the border into South Africa are reworking ideas of masculinity and marriage in rural sending communities”), “Transnational Parenting and the Emergence of ‘Diaspora Orphans’ in Zimbabwe,” and “Migration, Transnationalism and the Shaping of Zimbabwean Pentecostal Spirituality.” The issue provides an in-depth consideration of various aspects of transnationalism and diasporic movements out of and into Zimbabwe.
There have been three to nine articles in each issue of the journal, ranging across a wide spectrum of subjects, from “Gender, Generation and Identities in Vancouver’s African Diaspora” to “We Are what We Eat: Food in the Process of Community Formation and Identity Shaping among African Traders in Guangzhou and Yiwu” and ““Virtuous Citizenship”: Ethnicity and Encapsulation among Akan-Speaking Ghanaian Methodists in London.” The content here is excellent; the arrangement and accessibility of the information is less than ideal. It is awkward and time-consuming to move through the list of issues, and then through the issues themselves. Fortunately, there is a search feature that enables you to find articles on a topic quickly. For example, my search for: gambling quickly brought up, “Circumventing Uncertainty in the Moral Economy: West African Shrines in Europe, Witchcraft and Secret Gambling.”
Is this title a viable companion or alternative to African and Black Diaspora, another semi-annual publication (ISSN: 1752-864X)? They certainly cover similar subjects, although frankly, despite my concerns about the ease of moving through African Diaspora, it compares favorably to the ease of use and accessibility of content in African and Black Diaspora. As of 2015, the latter will cost $373.00 for an annual institutional subscription, while African Diaspora is, of course, free. Africa Diaspora is indexed in both SocINDEX and Scopus.