There is in many studies of migration and diasporic cultures an implicit temporally-imagined causal series: capitalism in the third world causes migration, which in turn causes transnational networks, which finally causes diasporic culture. In this lecture based on my new book, The Diasporic Condition, I show how, at least in the case of Lebanon, Diasporic Culture needs to be seen as the very culture of Lebanese modernity. Migration is a manifestation of this Diasporic culture rather than its condition of possibility. The lecture examines the various features that mark this Diasporic modernity. I will argue that the latter is defined by four key cultural features: 1. The internationalisation of the space of viability: seeing the globe in its entirety as somewhere where one can make a living, 2. A permanent
state of comparative existence: the impossibility of an experience that is not haunted by images of other experiences in other national spaces, 3. A lenticular experience: a mode of simultaneously inhabiting the multiple cultural reality that make up one’s world, and 3. An anisogamic conception of global inter-cultural relations: a way of seeing one’s relation to other people in other nation as governed by a relation of superiority and inferiority structured around the binary: those who have to migrate and those who don’t have to migrate.
Ghassan Hage is professor of anthropology and social theory at the University of Melbourne (Australia) and currently (2022-2024) visiting professor of anthropology at the Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology in Halle (Germany). His work covers many areas including: critical anthropological theory, the anthropology of nationalism and racism and the anthropology of migration. He is the author of many works including most recently Decay(2021), The Diasporic Condition(2021) and most recently, The Racial Politics of Australian Multiculturalism (2023).