The Beginning/End of Diaspora: A Kernel of Time in a Mystical Mode of Existence

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Wilson Chacko Jacob


This article considers the potential payoffs of the diasporic as an analytical category developed from Indian Ocean histories that are related to and distinct from various castings of the global. Historically tracing the Indian Ocean trajectories of a Sufi Muslim family from Hadhramawt in relation to changing terms of sovereignty from the late-eighteenth century through the interwar period, the contours and crises of a normative framework for collective and individual life are recuperated and reexamined. The history of these individuals and the theory of life they presuppose and at times explicitly predicate or oppose afford the historian a view of the diasporic as capable of materializing the simultaneity of this- and other-worldly modes of existence. The article concludes that mystical interruptions of historical time that a critical diasporic lens again makes legible as an enduring global form of life represent rarely appreciated sites of emancipation.

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