This article sketches out a synthesis of issues that have emerged in the study of diaspora and music. The author identifies two broad approaches in the literature: 1) diaspora as social formation and 2) diaspora as metaphor. By “diaspora as social formation” is meant approaches that stress a sociological definition of diaspora and that emphasize the historical facts and material conditions of diasporas, with empirical enquiry focused on the social networks that maintain diasporic communities and the role of music in articulating such networks. In contrast, approaches that evoke “diaspora as metaphor” emphasize the interpretive possibilities that the idea of diaspora enables in regard to the historical and contemporary global flows of music. The article ends with a brief discussion of the metaphor of the rhizome as a way of thinking about the non-hierarchical nature of diasporic networks, and of the way music may articulate the different nodes of these networks while providing a vehicle for the imagination and performance of diasporic consciousness.
diaspora; migration; transnationalism; globalization; rhizome