Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mayor of the Squirrel Hill Diaspora

Finishing up my visit with Alan Paul's Expat Life, I picked up the following post from Paul in the Wall Street Journal forums:

Paul: My old friend Icky (half the people I grew up with had nicknames like that) wrote me an interesting response to my column. Hi call him the mayor of the Squirrel Hill (our Pittsburgh neighborhood) exile community. He keeps a huge array of people in touch. I email with guys I went to high school or summer camp with that I haven't seen in 20-25 years.

Icky: I think it's interesting to think about how technology makes our experience in the ex-Pittsburgh diaspora much different than our grandparents' experiences of leaving the old country - and never seeing or hearing from their old friends again - or visiting, etc.

My grandmother's memories of her friends as a 14 yr old in Russia were frozen in time.

That high school buddies keep in touch isn't remarkable. The self-identification as the "exile community" or the "ex-Pittsburgh diaspora" is novel and is a product of the advances in communication technology. I also notices that the scale of identity is shrinking. Diasporas of ethnicity and nationality are giving way to cities of origin and even neighborhoods such as Squirrel Hill.

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