What is the meaning of Diaspora and why is it important for contemporary historians to understand?

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Diaspora is the dispersal of a group of people from their original homeland. It may refer to the event of travel outside the homeland, and/or the act of settling in a new location. It is different from immigration in that it involves a specific ethnic or cultural group leaving their homeland on a mass scale, to the point that these people may no longer occupy the homeland as a majority.

As historians, we most commonly use the term "diaspora" to refer to the dispersion of Jewish people outside of Israel, and their experience of settling (or not) in another nation. There has been a shift towards talking about diaspora of cultural groups other than Jewish people, but this is the popular, historical usage.

It is important to understand both the cause and effects of a diaspora. For example, a majority of the Jewish populations were pushed out of Israel and Palestine beginning with the Babylonian conquests of the 6th century, BCE. Not only does such mass-migration remove a cultural presence from an area, it creates a cultural presence in the areas settled. In these new settled areas, identity takes on multiplicity and there is often a blending of cultures.

Today, a diaspora is occurring as much of the population of Syria is being uprooted from their homeland and these people are moving into other nations. 

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