The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Is diaspora correct? I was looking for le mot juste for peoples and cultures that spread out of their homelands and establish themselves abroad, not necessarily abandoning their origins. I guess diaspora will have to do unless someone can suggest a better term.

The question I ask myself is: is it remarkable that the greatest artistic triumphs of a culture seem to take place in its diaspora, rather than back home? For instance, the Persians have nothing back in Iran to touch the Taj Mahal. The Hindus built nothing quite in the league of Angkor Wat in India. The Moors did far better in Spain than in their own homeland. And the Greeks and Romans raised the glories of Byzantium outmatching the spectacular achievements of their forefathers back home.

Of course, these examples may just be aberrations. Are there any more examples? Counterexamples? If the thesis is true, why is it so?


Veena said...

I don't know. Not that I know anything about Byzantium or travelled in that part of the world, but I'd question whether the Greek & Roman glories there really outmatch the achievements of their forefathers back in the homelands.
And then there were the people with no diaspora like the Mayans or the Egyptians (though I guess that depends on what you believe in)

Oh Bill agrees with you. Blabbering something about how this applies to stuff beyond physical structures, and about some country called America. Nothing useful, needless to say.

Fëanor said...

Veena: hi. You're right that the Egyptians or the Mayans didn't have a diaspora but still produced superb cultural artefacts. But my question was more narrow: if a culture spread out, was the achievement of the diaspora more magnificent than that of those who remained in the homeland?

Re: Byzantium - it preserved and enhanced Roman and Greek learning and art when the ancestral lands were crumbling. As an example: there's nothing in Greece or Rome that (to my mind, anyway) matches the Aya Sophia in Istanbul.

(Poor Bill. Is he destined to always be slapped down? I feel for him, especially as he does me the kindness of agreeing with my thesis!) :-)

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