Culture seen as a commons: Osmosis, crossroads and the paradoxes of identity
Thomas Hylland Eriksen
This is the keynote lecture given on the occasion of The Impact of Diasporas event, held on 17 September 2015 at the Royal Geographical Society, London. This event marked the culmination of two major research projects, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The Oxford Diasporas Programme (University of Oxford) consisted of eleven projects looking at the social, economic, political and cultural impact of diasporas (transnational communities of people dispersed from their homeland) through a range of disciplinary perspectives and research methods, covering case studies from both the global North and South. This project investigated the connections between people who migrate to other countries and those who stay at home. It explored what effects these connections have on people in the country of origin, people in the country of destination, and on the migrants themselves. The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain (University of Leicester) was built on the premise that diasporas are not a modern phenomenon. Ever since the last Ice Age people have moved into the British Isles from the European continent. The programme’s research focused primarily on the cultural, linguistic, and genetic interactions between peoples known to history as ‘Celts’, ‘Britons’, ‘Anglo-Saxons’, and ‘Vikings’. This keynote lecture was the final component of a day of presentations from researchers from both programmes which linked the projects through themes of ‘home and away’, ‘lost and found’, ‘coming and going’ and ‘remembering and forgetting’.