Chapter 2

Classifying Americans Abroad: A Diaspora or a Global Migrant Community?

Chapter Abstract

Scholars have yet to develop a theoretical understanding of American emigration that explains the forces involved in this unique migration. However, academics and non-academics have recently described the group as diasporic.  This controversial interpretation is a product of the ambiguity of the term ‘diaspora’ in scholarly literature and is a further attempt by authors to entice readership.  In this chapter, I investigate the claim of the American Diaspora after systematically exploring the various definitions of diaspora in published literature.  I consider the case of the American Diaspora through a comparative approach.  Finding that the American case does not represent a diaspora, I propose and theorize an alternative term to collectively discuss this unique group of citizens due to their shared experience and intentions: a global migrant community.  Furthermore, I identify specific terms to use in discussions of subsets of Americans abroad, which can be applied and validated through empirical research.  Finally, I discuss the implications of atypical diasporic claims and the potential de-legitimization of the term stemming from the wide use.